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This Crown Is Mine: History of Pretenders for the Crown, Civil War, and Foreign Invasion in Seventeenth-Century Russia

This Crown Is Mine: History of Pretenders for the Crown, Civil War, and Foreign Invasion in Seventeenth-Century Russia

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This Crown Is Mine: History of Pretenders for the Crown, Civil War, and Foreign Invasion in Seventeenth-Century Russia

Lunghezza:
823 pagine
65 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 5, 2012
ISBN:
9781469795713
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

In the early 17th century, Russia went through a foreign invasion and the nations first civil war a time so horrible that it acquired its own name in Russian history: The Times of Troubles. Internal and external forces came together to create a storm of such magnitude that it threatened the very existence of the nation. The country lay in ruins and a foreign army occupied Moscow. For a while it seemed that Russia would never become an independent nation again, but the Russian people found enough strength and courage to stop the civil war and unite against foreign invaders.

Two young people played a most important role in these events a pretender to the Russian throne who called himself Tsarevich Dmitry, son of the late Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, and Marina Mnishek, the girl with whom he fell in love while on the run from then Russian Tsar, Boris Godunov. Dmitry invaded Russia with a small band of adventurers and defeated Godunov. He and Marina were married and crowned in the Kremlin. Two weeks after their marriage, Dmitry was killed in a riot and Marina was exiled to the far North. But she escaped, and took part in a civil war herself. Twice she came to the walls of Moscow with an army and two different men by her side, fighting for her crown.

This is a true story how a young man of uncertain ancestry and a young woman from a family of Polish nobility forced history to engrave their names into the list of Tsars families of Russia. In their adventures, fights, travels, love stories, and turns of fate throwing them into the depths of despair and raising them to the heights of power and wealth, this couple lived more exciting lives than millions of other human beings put together.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 5, 2012
ISBN:
9781469795713
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Born in Russia, Benjamin Levin currently lives in Massachusetts. He majored in computer science, worked in the high-tech industry, and now teaches at a university. A student of ancient Roman and Russian history, he is fascinated with individuals who greatly influenced events during history’s most turbulent moments.

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This Crown Is Mine - Benjamin Levin

3/30/2012

Contents

Foreword

Prologue:

The Rise of Moscovia

Book I.

DMITRY THE FIRST, TSAR OF ALL RUSSIA

Part 1

A Man Called Dmitry

Chapter 1.

A New Servant in Brahin (June 1603, Poland)

Chapter 2.

A Girl Meets the Prince (February 1604, Poland)

Chapter 3.

Gathering in Sambor (February 1604, Poland)

Chapter 4.

The End of a Dynasty

Chapter 5.

Story of Tsarevich Dmitry,

Told by Himself to Mnishek

Chapter 6.

The Best Laid Plans (March 1604, Poland)

Part 2

The Birth of the Pretender

Chapter 1.

Audience with the King

(March to April 1604, Poland)

Chapter 2.

Promises to Keep (May 1604, Poland)

Chapter 3.

The Marriage Vows (May to August 1604, Poland)

Chapter 4.

The Campaign Begins

(August to October 1604, Poland)

Part 3

A Road to Glory

Chapter 1.

Dmitry the Liberator

(October 1604 to January 1605, Russia)

Chapter 2.

The Fortunes of War

(January to April 1605, Russia)

Chapter 3.

The Collapse of the Army

(April to May 1605, Russia)

Chapter 4.

His Majesty Tsar Dmitry I

(May to July 1605, Russia)

Chapter 5.

It Is Hard to Be a Tsar

(July to October 1605, Russia)

Chapter 6.

The Private Life of the Tsar

(July to October 1605, Russia)

Chapter 7.

Love and Politics

(October to November 1605, Russia)

Part 4

Tsaritsa for a Fortnight

Chapter 1.

A Long Wait

(August 1604 to November 1605, Poland)

Chapter 2.

The Road to Moscow

(November 1605 to May 1606, Poland, Russia)

Chapter 3.

The Days of Glory (May 1606, Russia)

Chapter 4.

Those Whom the Gods Wish to Destroy…

(May 1606, Russia)

Chapter 5.

A Week in the Life of Royals (May 1606, Russia)

Book II.

MARINA MNISHEK, TSARITSA OF ALL RUSSIA

Part 1

If at First You Fail

Chapter 1.

The Day of Horror (May 27, 1606, Russia)

Chapter 2.

Kill the Heathens! (May 27, 1606, Russia)

Chapter 3.

Vassili IV, Tsar of All Russia

(May to August 1606, Russia)

Chapter 4.

Days of Despair (August 1606 to May 1608, Russia)

Chapter 5.

A Tenacious Ghost

(August 1606 to April 1608, Russia)

Chapter 6.

The Thief (June 1606 to April 1608, Poland)

Chapter 7.

One Country, Two Tsars

(May to August 1608, Russia)

Part 2

Then Try

Chapter 1.

Tsaritsa and the Thief

(August to September 1608, Russia)

Chapter 2.

The Man of Her Dreams

(September 1608 to January 1609, Russia)

Chapter 3.

Siege of the Holy Shrine

(October 1608 to January 1610)

Chapter 4.

A Tale of Two Capitals

(January to October 1609, Russia)

Chapter 5.

The Polish Invasion

(August 1609 to July 1611, Russia)

Chapter 6.

Monk Vassili (March 1610 to July 1611, Russia)

Chapter 7.

Polish King for the Russian Throne (March 1610 to January 1612, Russia)

Chapter 8.

In the Ice Cage (January 1612, Russia)

Part 3

And Try Again

Chapter 1.

And Death Fleeth from Them (January to March 1611, Russia)

Chapter 2.

Cossack Ivan, Regent of Russia

(April to September 1611, Russia)

Chapter 3.

The Victory That Was Not

(September 1611 to August 1612, Poland)

Chapter 4.

From Ruins And Ashes

(September 1611 to August 1612, Russia)

Chapter 5.

The Rise of the House of Romanovs (August 1612 to July 1613, Russia)

Epilogue:

The Black Crow (July 1613 to 1614, Russia)

Illustrations and Maps

Appendices

APPENDIX A.

Chronology

APPENDIX B.

Eyewitnesses and participants

APPENDIX C.

Historical Background: The Cossacks

APPENDIX D.

Historical Background: The Russian Army

Bibliography

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Again Moscow is crumbling in fires

In carnage ancestors hadn’t known

But this time there are no Tatars

It’s worse than Mamai¹ — it’s our own

A. Galich (translated by the author)

To my family. What would I be without you all?

Foreword

The analysis and description of the origins and nature of historical forces belong to the domain of history books. The magnifying glass used by scholars to study records of historical events removed from us by centuries is purposely designed to filter out human emotions, concentrating instead on economy and finances, legal and social structures, or political and military events. However, behind all these developments lie the individual life stories of countless people, full of feelings and passions, loves and hates, happiness and suffering. Sometimes a combination of historical forces and powerful human characters creates interplay of events and fates so dramatic that it defies the imagination of even the most creative novelist. This book describes one such moment in history of Eastern Europe four hundred years ago, at the watershed period between Medieval and Early Modern times.

All events described in this book actually happened; every character is real, and every date has been meticulously verified using historical documents or the writings of well-established historians. But there are many moments in the lives of the main participants of this story (especially private ones) that have disappeared into the deep well of times long gone. Then, and only then, in instances where no information was available, has the author allowed himself some liberty with their words and actions. This measure of freedom was employed by the author to penetrate into inner lives of his heroes; it was used only after careful research and by no means alters the historically accurate flow of events.

Quotations of original sources (memoirs, letters, diplomatic correspondences, government decrees, military dispatches, and the actual writings of participants left for us by historical documents) included in the book are meant to play two roles: To become an integral part of this story, and also to serve as proof that the events described in this book really happened and that all the participants are real historical figures. In order to help the reader to distinguish between dialogues brought in by the author’s imagination and quotations taken from real historical sources, the latter are printed in italics.

Until the sixteenth century both Europe and Russia used the Julian calendar. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decreed the acceptance of a new calendar, called the Gregorian Calendar after him. According to the new calendar, dates had to be moved forward by 10 days. But Russia continued to use the Julian calendar, so from 3/1/1500 to 2/29/1700 the European calendar was 10 days ahead of Russian calendar. The rules of dating accepted in Russian historical literature dictate that all events before February 1, 1918 are dated according to the Julian calendar. This book uses the Gregorian calendar. As a result the reader may notice a ten-day difference between dating of the same events in this book and in Russian literature. For example, the death of Dmitry I, dated in this book as May 27, 1605, is dated May 17 in Russian literature.

Illustrations are taken from Wikipedia and belong to the public domain. There are two maps included in the book. The first one illustrates the escape of Tsarevich² Dmitry from Russia and his invasion. The second shows the invasion of The Thief and the Polish occupation. Both maps were produced by the author.

Prologue:

The Rise of Moscovia

Somewhere in the northern part of the European plain a small stream running around a hill into a river people called Moskva created a good defensible position and a convenient place for a tired traveler to camp. Boatmen, who for many years had used this river to get to the larger waterways and then to the sea, built several huts at the top of this hill. In the middle of the twelfth century the Grand Prince of Vladimir, Yuri Longhands, built a frontier post on the hill, surrounded by a wall built from logs. This fort became known as the Kremlin, or fortress in Russian, and the collection of huts around it as Moscow, the future capital of Russia, seat of the Great Princes of Moscow and the Russian tsars. The first dynasty of the Russian tsars were Ruriks, who, according to a legend found in early chronicles, came from Scandinavia in the ninth century to rule the land that later became known as Russia.

For centuries Moscow, located in the inhospitable forests of the north, played no noticeable role in Russian history. The center of Russia was rich and beautiful Kiev, called the City of Golden Cupolas for its Byzantine architecture. Close ties with the Byzantine Empire and a central geographical position on the largest waterway between the north and the south, known as the pathway from Variags to Greeks, quickly made Kiev one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. According to witnesses, with its innumerable churches, hospitals, libraries, and schools eleventh century Kiev was more brilliant, alive, and bustling with life than Paris or London. The royal house of Kievan Rus married its children to the royal families of Europe.

Then a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions struck. The flat geography of central Russia provided no significant natural defenses, and the country became an easy prey for the dreaded Tatar-Mongol hordes. In 1240 Mongols sacked Kiev. It was a traumatic, heart-breaking blow to the Russian psyche. The proud, rich and beautiful Kiev, heir to Constantinople, Byzantium and its Emperors had fallen to savage invaders, pagans and heretics. Kiev was completely destroyed. After conquering Russia the Mongols turned back, saving Europe from the horror of the Mongolian invasion, but Russia paid dearly. One traveler said that he saw more skeletons on the steppes of Western Russia than living people.

For two centuries Russia endured Tatar control. Completely isolated from the Western world at the time when Europe was developing the most important ideas that became the foundation of Western civilization, the Russians were influenced by the East and adopted many customs from their Tatar overlords that ultimately penetrated their lifestyle and their minds. It was during this time Russia was introduced to the idea of absolute power second only to the power of God, concentrated in a single omnipotent human being. At the beginning this being was Great Batu-Khan, grandson of Genghis-Khan. The Russians called him tsar from the Roman caesar. Batu’s autocratic rule was propagated down to the last man through precise, perfectly working hierarchical administrative system. Obedience and total submission were achieved through one tool — fear. The dictator’s every wish was to be carried out as military order and the only one punishment for failure was inevitable death. It took many generations to fully incorporate into the Russian psyche this idea of a human dictator, God’s representative on Earth who alone possessed all the wisdom of the world, but once it did, the Russians were unable to get rid of it even after the Tatars were gone. The Russian meaning of the word tsar became very different from that of king. In the eyes of his subjects, the tsar’s power was second only to God’s, and the Orthodox Church filled this word with deep religious connotations, assigning divine powers to its holder. A Russian proverb Only God and the Tsar know was not just a proverb; it reflected the people’s genuine belief in the omnipotence of an autocrat. It was then that the sovereign became sacrosanct, while everyone else became a slave entirely dependent on his will or his whim. Even the boyars, who received all their power and wealth from the tsar, could be as easily raised to the footsteps of the throne as cast out into exile, imprisoned in a dungeon, or even find their heads on the block. It was said that although a tsar resembled other human beings physically, his powers were similar to God’s.

For two centuries the princes of Russia paid tribute to their Tatar overlords. Any candidate for a fiefdom had to travel to the court of the khans to receive permission to rule, and many never returned. But even under the Mongols’ rule, the Russians, defeated, humiliated, and powerless, remained united and survived as a nation. During that time Moscow began to grow in size and population. People were moving away from the lands occupied by Tatars to the woodlands of the north, and Moscow’s geographical position now played a positive role. Far from the center of the Tatar Empire, it managed to maintain its own lifestyle. The Tatars’ presence was felt only through taxes and sporadic raids when something was not to their satisfaction.

Through perseverance, cunning, and intelligence the Grand Princes of Moscow grew in power and wealth, even as they declared themselves subjects of the Khans. Unable to fight the Tatars, the Russians stayed together as a people united by the land that supported their physical existence and their religion that provided guidance in their spiritual life. At the end of the fourteenth century the strength of the Tatar yoke began to diminish, and by the middle of the fifteenth century the Tatar rule of Moscow was slowly coming to an end.

Starting with the original principality, the Grand Princes of Moscow through the centuries annexed other territories, and importance of Moscow grew with each generation. By the middle of the fifteenth century their powerful rule radiated from Moscow across the whole country. Grand Princes were always surrounded by boyars, originally members of their druzhina, or bodyguards, later their intimate friends and confidential advisers, members of the ruling elite. The boyars were divided into classes according to rank, generally determined by genealogy, personal merit, and service. Closest to the throne were high boyars, descendants of the first princes of Russia.

In the end of fifteenth century an adventurous German named Nicolas Poppel discovered Moscow and brought to Europe the news of a vast country beyond the known borders of the civilized world. Roman Emperor Frederick III then sent him as an envoy to the Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan III (Ivan the Great). Poppel was authorized by the Emperor to offer Ivan III recognition of the Roman Empire and the title of king. Ivan III proudly answered "We, by God’s Grace, are sovereigns in our land from the beginning, from our first forefathers, and our appointments we hold from God. He then promptly ordered an assembly of princes and high boyars at the Kremlin. In 1494, this assembly officially proclaimed him Sovereign of All Russia or Tsar".

Religion, which took its form of Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, played the most significant role in the nation’s history. After Constantinople, the center of Orthodoxy, and its Patriarch fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, the Russians, who by that time had overthrown Tatar domination, became convinced that they alone were capable of taking over the supreme authority of the Greek Church. That was when the idea of Moscow as the Third Rome and the Russian Orthodox Church as the only heir to Eastern Christianity took hold of the Russian psyche. Orthodoxy thoroughly penetrated the cultural and psychological fabric of the Russian society. In the eyes of Russians at that moment the seat of the only true Christian religion was transferred from Constantinople to Moscow, and the Greek Church ceded all symbols of Orthodoxy to the Russian Church, its only rightful successor. Soon all the Orthodox Christian religions of the world were merged in the tsardom of the Russian autocrat.

Russians firmly believed in the supremacy of their religion and the divine powers of God, whom they believed was especially benevolent to Russia and her faith. Knowing nothing of the new ideas being born in the West, ordinary folk clung to the lifestyles of their forefathers and the strict teachings of their church. No liberal or scientific thought could have possibly arisen in this land where there were no universities, where education was under the strict control of a very conservative church, and where any attempt at nontraditional thought was severely punished as heresy. In its adversarial relations with Catholicism, the Russian Orthodox Church went so far as to consider Catholics as unbelievers and pagans. The 16th century Russians had much more tolerance for Northern-European Protestantism than for the teachings of the Latin Church.

By the end of the sixteenth century Russia was expanding in territory and influence. The seat of the Tsar’s power was Moscow, a beautiful wooden city, and the source of spiritual as well as civil authority. The center of the city consisted of several districts, each surrounded by its own wall: Kremlin, Kitaigorod, and the White City. The suburbs extended far and wide around the center, protected by earthworks or wooden walls. Moscow occupied a very large area; while the largest cities of Europe such as Paris, Prague, and London grew upward, trying to stay behind high walls, Moscow grew horizontally, occupying more and more land. Instead of the European-style maze of narrow streets with two and three-story multifamily stone buildings crowded together, Moscow consisted largely of single-family, one-story houses with private fenced-in yards.

In the heart of Moscow stood the Kremlin, whose majestic silhouette at the top of the hill over the Moscow River radiated an awesome image of autocratic power. Built within a triangular area on the left bank of the river and surrounded by a stone wall up to 60 feet high, 7 feet thick and 1.5 miles long, with 18 towers and covered by a roof to protect the guards against the elements, the Kremlin was one of the best-fortified citadels in Europe. Inside the Kremlin, magnificent palaces, churches, and monasteries were clustered around the Cathedral Square, which was used for weddings, coronations, and burial processions that escorted tsars and patriarchs to their place of eternal rest. The Cathedral Square was dominated by the glittering dome of Ivan the Great bell-tower, at 240 feet the tallest structure in Russia.

The Kremlin played the most important role in Russia’s political, cultural, and spiritual life. The royal family, the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the top clergy, and the high boyars, all lived behind the Kremlin walls. The seat of Russian Orthodoxy and its holiest church was the Cathedral of the Assumption. Decorated with frescoes and icons, it combined refined Italian and traditional Russian architectural styles. Another cathedral was the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, which served as a burial place for the Grand Princes of Moscow and the tsars of Russia. The Cathedral of Annunciation was the smallest on the Cathedral Square, but it was the most beautiful and a favorite of the tsars. Here the tsar’s family prayed, and royal weddings and baptisms were performed. Only the tsar’s family could pray behind its golden doors in their private chapel, decorated with ancient Greek icons, painted panels depicting Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, and the apostles. Fifteenth century frescoes portrayed the suffering of souls in Hell, the apostles and saints in Paradise, scenes of the Judgment Day and from the book of Genesis. Two monasteries that played the most important roles in Russia’s spiritual life, Ascension and Chudov, also resided within the Kremlin walls. The Palace of Facets was primarily used for audiences and feasts. Inside, the arabesque arches of narrow tunnels led from one hall to another through ornamented doors, creating a maze of passages and rooms, all with painted walls covered by intricate golden ornaments and magnificent carvings on curved ceilings. Twisted corridors and small rooms were dimly illuminated by candles in golden scones on the walls, while the large halls were lit by colossal chandeliers holding hundreds of candles. The Terem Palace was the main residence of the tsars, where they and their families were born, lived, and died.

Among other notable buildings there was the Armory, built by Ivan IV as a collection of workshops where he gathered representatives of all known artistic professions, mechanics, sculptors, engravers, carvers, jewelers, icon painters, silversmiths, and goldsmiths. These workshops gradually became the country’s center of artistic production. Over time the Armory became a repository for the crown’s treasures. Incalculable riches were stored behind its wrought-iron gates ornamented with the two-headed eagle, including silverware, clothing, arms, priceless jewelry, saddles, coaches, and other invaluable relics from the past. In 1576, the ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor was given a tour of the Armory and wrote that he had never seen such wealth in palaces of the European kings or in the Vatican.

Beyond large cities, countryside stretched to infinity, a land of fields and forests that provided all the people needed. Most of the Russian population lived in small villages, built by a riverbank, around a lake, or at the end of a horse trail. Homes were wooden cabins built without a single nail, covered with straw roofs, with an attached barn and corral for cattle. Small villages were surrounded by meadows, pasture, and forest, and clustered together for protection. Each village had its own little church and a small public bathhouse, used in summer and winter. That was the real Russia, living its own life beyond the bustling streets and shining domes of Moscow. Sleepy, slow, very conservative, and intensely religious. The land of Tsars.

Book I.

DMITRY THE FIRST, TSAR OF ALL RUSSIA

Figure 1. Dmitry the First

Sign on the portrait reads: Dmitrius, Emperor of Moscovia, husband of Marianna Mnishkovna, daughter of George, Palatine of Sandomier and Tarlovna.

Boguszowicz, Szymon. False Dmitriy I in Coronation Robes. Ca. 1606. Oil on Canvas. State Historical Museum, Moscow, Russia.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pseudo-Dmitrius.jpg

Part 1

A Man Called Dmitry

Chapter 1.

A New Servant in Brahin (June 1603, Poland)

At the end of the sixteenth century the Vishnevetski family was one of most distinguished families in Poland. Descendants of the royal house of Gedimin, they had a strain of the Rurik’s blood in their veins. The family owned large territories of steppe and forest just south of the Russian borders, an area sparsely populated with small towns and villages. In 1600 Prince Adam Vishnevetski acquired a place called Brahin, actually little more than a village surrounded by vast swamps close to the Russian border, and made it his main residence. In early 1603 he started having problems with Moscovites who plundered several of his villages and seized two of his towns. A long process of appeals and legal complaints made by Adam through King Sigismund to the Russian government came to nothing. The Russians had no intention of returning seized lands, and the King was not about to start a war because of two small towns in the middle of nowhere. Adam, not a patient politician but rather an adventurous hothead, fumed with rage but could not do much.

In June of 1603 Adam added a new personal attendant to his staff. The young man had recently arrived from the Arian school in Goscha with a letter of introduction from its founder, Pan³ Gosky. One day when Prince Adam was taking a bath, the new valet, assigned to assist him, was slow and mishandled one of his tasks. Adam, being in a foul mood that day, slapped him in the face. Such outbursts did not happen often, as many of the people in Adam’s household were of the minor nobility; yet it was not totally unheard of, and normally would not have caused much of a commotion. This time, however, the new valet took what happened very close to heart. He started weeping, and through his sobs said that Adam would never have done that if he knew who he was, but because he could not yet openly announce his true identity, he must bear his misfortune with patience. Surprised, Adam asked, Well, who are you? What is your name? The young man’s reply stunned the Prince. I am Tsarevich Dmitry, the youngest son of Ivan IV, Tsar of Russia. Everybody thinks that I was killed in Uglich, but with the help of my mother and my relatives I escaped. He showed Adam a priceless golden cross set with diamonds and said that his godfather gave the cross to him when he was christened. Then the youth prostrated himself before Adam and said that now he was at his mercy, but that if Adam helped him, he would be richly rewarded.

Adam quickly assessed the situation. The Polish aristocracy close to the country’s political circles was always well informed about what was going on in Russia. He, of course, heard the story of Tsarevich Dmitry’s death, and was aware that the current Tsar Boris Godunov was not enjoying much love from his subjects. He knew about the hunger in Russia, the uprisings of serfs, and about rumors that the supposedly murdered Tsarevich Dmitry was alive. Adam had learned about that from the report of Polish ambassador in Moscow, Leo Sapiega, which was sent to him by his brother Konstantin. According to Sapiega, Russian authorities had implemented harsh measures to quell these rumors and many Russian nobles and commoners had been executed or exiled, including the Romanovs, one of most respected aristocratic families of the land.

Adam was not a statesman or politician, so the large-scale political picture was not his domain. He did not think much about the validity of the claim made by this valet and would-be Tsarevich, or what interest the Polish government might have in the matter. That was out of his league. But revenge on Godunov for the loss of his towns, and maybe even a little blackmail to help negotiations with the Russian government regarding the seized lands, that was a different story altogether. There was not much to lose, and possibly a lot to gain. By the time Dmitry calmed down, Adam’s mind was made up. If he made everybody believe that he took the claims of this youth seriously, the rumors would quickly reach authorities in Moscow and then their reaction would tell him how he could benefit from this new situation.

Thus, the first thing Adam did was to beg His Majesty’s forgiveness for his own despicable act of rudeness, caused by his total ignorance of His Majesty’s identity. This was kindly granted. Then Adam hurried to give the appropriate orders. Dmitry, who accepted his change of fate with amazing grace and self-assuredness, allowed himself to be washed and clothed in the best costume that could be found in the household. Then Adam presented him with six of his finest horses and expensive armor, which included a gold-chased sword and a gem-studded dagger. Dmitry was also provided with his own personal servants and a carriage suitable for a prince. In the evening a fabulous dinner was arranged, at which Adam introduced to his amazed guests Dmitry, Grand Prince of Moscovia and rightful Tsar of All Russia, without going into specifics of when or how the imperial guest had arrived.

The next several days Adam and Dmitry spent in conversations. Adam knew that to have a strong bargaining position, he needed as many details of Dmitry’s story as possible. Adam and Dmitry rode horses in the forest around Brahin, walked in the woods, and dined together. Most of the time Dmitry talked and Adam listened. The story he heard was amazing, entertaining, and frighteningly credible. Now Adam could not feel at ease with his former valet, and could not help but wonder. What if it was all true and his guest was the real son and rightful heir of Ivan IV? Was there a chance that, by an accident of fate, he had become the benefactor of the true Tsarevich Dmitry? That would make Tsar Godunov an impostor, and this youth with noble posture and a gift for intelligent conversation the legitimate Tsar of All Russia!

Adam did not believe Dmitry had arrived in Brahin without a plan. The accident in the bath was probably just that, an accident, but Dmitry obviously was clever enough to have his own game plan. Actually, now Adam remembered hearing several rumors that he had paid no attention to before about Tsarevich Dmitry being alive. Besides a report by Leo Sapiega from Russia in 1600, Adam heard a story from traveling monks that at the Pechorsky Monastery in Kiev a young man, gravely ill and thinking he was on his deathbed, had confessed to the archimandrite that he was Dmitry Tsarevich. The archimandrite got angry and ordered the monk, who by the way miraculously recuperated at a moment’s notice, to leave the monastery. Then last year at a party he overheard the son of Prince Konstantin Ostrozski talking about a young man living in his father’s estate who had hinted that he was the son of Ivan IV, after which Prince Konstantin told him to leave Ostrogi. The latest rumor he had heard in the early spring of 1603 was about some crazy venture of the Cossacks⁴, who gave refuge to a man calling himself the rightful Tsar of All Russia. Adam knew that the Cossacks hated Godunov and were eagerly looking for a chance to rise against him. Dmitry’s own version of all these events was slightly different. Clearly, he tried to hide from Adam his previous attempts to announce himself. It was also not out of the realm of possibility that the pretender chose Adam for his next attempt exactly because he had found out about Adam’s problems with Moscovites. It did not matter. Adam had an interesting adventure at hand, and maybe even some profit to make. This is was what life was about!

But after Adam introduced his guest to members of his household and friends as Tsarevich Dmitry, rightful Tsar of All Russia, events took on a life of their own, quickly running out of control. A story of Tsarevich being a guest in the estate of Prince Adam Vishnevetski spread like wildfire among local Polish nobility and in nearby Cossack areas. News that a member of one of the richest, most aristocratic families in Poland, himself a distant relative of the Ruriks, supported the claims of a pretender was enough to excite adventurous young Poles and the wild Cossacks, who hated Russia and wanted to see some action. One after another, armed groups started gathering in Brahin demanding that Adam lead them to war against the Russians. Adam started having a sinking feeling that he had gotten in way over his head. The last thing he wanted was to be declared the instigator of a Cossack uprising. His original plan to use the Tsarevich Dmitry story for his own small gains had grown into something too hot to handle. He needed advice of somebody more skillful in politics and closer to the seat of power. Besides, it soon became clear that Tsar Godunov was genuinely worried about this young man, whether he was an impostor or the real Tsarevich.

A few months after Prince Adam had presented Dmitry to his guests, a man came to see him. Adam was called to the gates by the guard on duty. The visitor looked tired, like someone who had just made a long journey. He asked Adam for a private conversation. Adam invited the man into the house and offered him a drink. The stranger introduced himself as a messenger from Simeon Godunov, the brother of the Tsar of Russia. No name — just a messenger. The man looked calm, experienced, and dangerous. Apparently, he had precise instructions. He wasted no time and went straight to business. The authorities in Moscow had received information that a defrocked monk, thief, black magician, and fugitive convict named Grigory Otrepiev was a guest in Adam’s house. Tsar Godunov wanted criminal Otrepiev to be returned to Russia. As a gesture of gratitude, all the issues between Adam and the Russian state would be immediately resolved. Adam would get back his towns, as well as monetary restitution for his troubles. But Otrepiev must be sent to Moscow in chains. That point was not negotiable. If Adam refused, the Russian authority would consider this a decidedly unfriendly act and reserve the right to do whatever they felt is necessary to get Otrepiev back.

Insulted as he was, the Prince spared the messenger’s life. He did not want to go too far in making the Russians angry, and besides Adam was a soldier himself. He knew the messenger was just carrying out orders. However the man had to start back to the Russian border immediately. Simeon Godunov had miscalculated. Used to dealing with Russians, he had chosen absolutely the wrong approach. For a Russian, a threat from the all-powerful head of the Tsar’s dreaded secret service, especially when reinforced by the promise of reward, would have been enough. But in Poland, when it concerned nobility, threats did not work. If made by an equal, a duel, at that time unknown in Russia, would have immediately ensued. Besides, Adam was not just a noble; he was a scion of one of the proudest families in Poland and a man well known for his hot temper. Even if he had wanted to accept Godunov’s offer, he could not; Dmitry was no longer his servant. Adam himself had introduced him as the son of Ivan IV. To allow his noble guest and blood relative, who had asked for his protection, to be taken in chains with a hood over his head as a common criminal back to the universally hated Russia would mean disgrace and loss of honor in the eyes of the whole country.

Adam accepted the challenge, and now life in Brahin, a small place close to the Russian border, could quickly become dangerous. It would take little time for a mobile detachment of streltsy5 to make a Tatar-like lightning nighttime raid on Brahin. The ensuing argument between Poland and Russia about who was responsible for all these dead bodies in Brahin would take years, and would come to nothing. Adam knew that he had to get his guest away from the border. Besides, he wanted to get advice on the whole pretender business from his cousin, Konstantin Vishnevetski, who was more attuned to the politics of the Polish court. Adam informed him about all the recent events and his fears, and received an invitation to visit the capital of the family estates of Prince Konstantin, over three hundred miles away from the Russian border in Zalozhtsy. At the end of the summer of 1603, Adam’s caravan left Brahin.

Meanwhile, disturbing rumors began circulating in the Polish capital that the Cossacks were on the move. At the beginning there was no concrete information about what was happening, but when the Cossacks started buying armaments, enlisting fresh recruits, hoarding provisions, organizing into bands, and choosing hetman6, that could mean only one thing: war. Poland had just been through the hard times of a previous Cossack uprising, and although the Cossacks were defeated and their leader Nalivaiko had been publicly roasted inside a brass bull in Warsaw, stories of the merciless raids of Cossack bandits and their despicable cruelty were fresh in the memory of many Poles. Therefore, when rumors of unrest among the Cossacks reached Krakow, the government went on alert and King Sigismund ordered an investigation.

When Adam reached Zalozhtsy, Konstantin already knew about the inquiries being made by the King. After hearing Adam’s story, Konstantin realized that the rash actions of his hotheaded cousin had created substantial anxiety, rising up directly to the Polish throne. That could not be good. On Konstantin’s advice, Adam wrote a letter to the authorities, describing the appearance of a man who called himself Tsarevich Dmitry, rightful Tsar of All Russia. The Tsarevich, wrote Adam, wanted to ask the King of Poland for help in regaining his throne. Adam said that he would have written earlier, but had wanted to find out more about this man before bothering the authorities with the matter. The content of this letter put King Sigismund in a precarious position. He had just signed a twenty-year peace treaty with Russia and recently lost a war with Sweden, and his own relations with the Polish nobility were not going well. The last thing he needed was a complication in his relations with Poland’s powerful eastern neighbor. But on the other hand, if the Cossacks were uniting behind someone they called Tsar Dmitry, swearing allegiance to him and promising to march on Moscow to install him as Tsar of Russia, all that had nothing to do with Poland. The King could just watch this strange story unfolding, and perhaps somehow use it to Poland’s advantage in its never-ending competition with Russia. Therefore, without rejecting this ridiculous tale outright, Sigismund sent a letter to Prince Adam, asking him for details regarding the incident and officially summoning him and the pretender to Krakow. The King took a prudent course of action. In December he announced he would reserve his judgment until he met in person with the pretender in Krakow, and issued a strict order forbidding any subject of the crown to sell arms to the Cossacks under penalty of death. Politically, this enabled the King to avoid an open breach of relations with Russia.

Meanwhile, Polish nobility from near and far started gathering in Zalozhtsy asking to be introduced to the legitimate Tsar of Russia and offering their participation in the upcoming campaign against Moscow. Aristocrats competed for a chance to entertain the Tsarevich, so the days were spent in lavish feasts, hunting, drinking, fencing, dancing, and planning the future military campaign. They were all young, impatient, and insanely brave. Dmitry showed himself to be a good speaker, his Polish was excellent, he knew Russian and Polish history well, his behavior was graceful and noble, and his knowledge of etiquette was on a par with the noblest Poles. Given a horse and a weapon he was a good match for these ferocious young fighters, who soon were ready and willing to go wherever fate and the Tsarevich would lead them.

It was a good life, but now it was time to go to Krakow, where a personal interview with the King would decide the pretender’s fate. Either he would be accepted as Tsarevich Dmitry, a legitimate heir to the throne of Russia, and get a chance to fight for the crown; or he would be called an impostor and liar and then most probably turned over to Russians where his fate would be a slow and painful death under torture in one of Simeon Godunov’s dungeons. But before going to Krakow, Konstantin decided to make a stop in Sambor, the estate of his father-in-law, Yuri Mnishek, the Lord of Sandomier. Konstantin wrote Mnishek a very detailed letter, describing everything that had happened since Adam acquired the new valet. He soon received a reply that said that the Lord of Sandomier found the story fascinating and offered his expert advice. Konstantin and Adam knew that Mnishek was an incomparable master of court intrigues with many backstage connections and powerful friends. He was a perfect man for the job of selling Dmitry to the King, his court, and the public at large.

And so in the beginning of 1604 the caravans of Konstantin, Adam, and the man who called himself Dmitry started their slow progress to Sambor, situated about 120 miles west of Zalozhtsy. For both Princes this strange story meant an interesting adventure, possibly large gains, and not much risk. For their guest this was the road to glory or to death, or maybe both, but this young man had been traveling the roads of danger for many years, and he was used to it. He was young, intelligent, brave, and strong. The weather was refreshingly cold, his horse was excellent, and his dress and armor were suitable for a prince. Whatever fate awaited him at the moment he felt, maybe for the first time in his life, like a Tsarevich, and what was even more important the others, including proud Polish nobles, accepted him as their equal. They were hunting, drinking, celebrating. Dmitry was having the time of his life.

Chapter 2.

A Girl Meets the Prince (February 1604, Poland)

On a cold sunny day in early February of 1604, a girl was riding a horse around the smooth snowy hills of Sambor, Poland. She was Marina, the youngest daughter of the Polish aristocrat Pan Yuri Mnishek, Senator of the Republic, Lord of Sandomier, manager of the King’s estates in Sambor and Lvov, Castellan of several of the King’s towns, and superintendent of the local salt mines. She was sixteen, and at that time sixteen was the end of adolescence. Back then there was little time for carefree teenage years. Life was harsh, brutal, and most of all short; one went from childhood to adulthood with little transition time. Marina should have been married already, but her father was trying to find the best match for her; he had done a marvelous job with her older sister Ursula, marrying her to the scion of one of the noblest families in Poland, Prince Konstantin Vishnevetski. Marina was petite, with black hair, a pretty face and lively, daring, slightly oblong eyes. Her thin lips and narrow chin gave her face a certain haughty expression, and her high forehead and small mouth reflected intense feelings of pride and ambition. She managed her large horse well, she seemed brave and capable, and the dagger on her belt was not just a decoration, she could use it well, if need be. She rode among these hills almost every morning, but today she could not admire the beauty of the countryside and let her horse choose the path. Today she was preoccupied with her thoughts; something had just happened.

Being sixteen years old, smart, impressionable, and imaginative, Marina had often dreamed about a prince on a white horse riding one day into dull Sambor and taking her with him to make her a queen, but being also cool-headed and rational, at the bottom of her heart she knew that this was just a dream. As a daughter of the Lord of Sandomier, a man with extensive connections at the court and in the highest circles of political power, she could count on a good match, but a prince, a queen… She knew that in real life, things like that did not happen. And now, when it had, she was afraid, perplexed, and nervous.

They had arrived yesterday afternoon, Princes Adam and Konstantin Vishnevetski, Konstantin’s wife Ursula, Marina’s sister, and their whole entourage — servants, private militia for protection, musicians, carriages, folding tents, suitcases with dresses for all occasions, jewelry, armor, packages of food and dishes. Polish nobles always traveled with a swarm of servants and caravans of necessities. The Prince was with them. He was riding a white horse, but looked nothing like her dream — tall, dark, and good-looking. The real Prince was rather short but powerfully built, with strong hands; he had reddish hair, and his face, although not handsome, was alive, with intelligent blue eyes. He had a birthmark under the right eye. The Prince rode well, like the Polish young men she knew, all excellent horsemen and incomparable sword-fighters. Of course, at first she did not know that he was a prince. She just saw a new young man with bright eyes and good horsemanship. She also noticed that both Vishnevetskis and her father, who went to greet them, looked preoccupied, serious, and very respectful to the bright-eyed youth. That the Princes and her father, the Lord of Sandomier, were so respectful to someone, especially one so young, was significant.

Her father had always taken part in one scheme or another, and now whatever he was involved in seemed important. Never before had he discussed business with his daughter. This time he did. He had come into her room the previous evening, and they had talked. What he said shook Marina. The young man she saw was a real prince, Prince Dmitry, son of that dreadful Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Russia, who had been the mortal enemy of her Poland for decades, and who did such horrible things to his own people. She had heard hair-raising stories about thousands of people murdered in the most brutal fashion by that Tsar. She had also heard about his young son Dmitry, murdered more than ten years ago by the current Tsar of Russia, Boris Godunov. But now her father said that Tsarevich Dmitry had escaped and it was he who had ridden in today. That meant Godunov was just an usurper, and this youth was the legitimate heir to the throne of Russia! Marina’s father had said nothing else, but she knew him well enough. He was obviously weaving some complex intrigue and she would have a role to play in his script. Her father had told her to get home early the next day and to dress well for dinner. Marina turned her horse around. She needed to get home and prepare for the evening. Today they would be formally introduced. A prince, a white horse… what was to come next?

The Mnishek family occupied a privileged position in the Polish court, but Yuri himself had a well-deserved bad reputation. His father had come to Poland from Moravia around 1540 with some money he earned serving King Ferdinand. He managed to marry into an aristocratic Polish family, which helped him to unlock doors into the highest circles of Polish nobility and provided access to profitable administrative positions. Both of his sons, Nikolai and Yuri, led the idle life of golden youth at the court of King Sigismund II, until one day a tragic event allowed them to fully reveal their real talents. The Queen died, and the old King, who had loved his wife beyond measure, went into a deep depression. He turned to a life of debauchery, black magic, and drunkenness, drowning his sorrow in wine. The Mnishek brothers became his confidantes and accomplices, providing the King with mistresses, witches, magicians, and love potions. Yuri owed his eminent position to a lucky chance. He found a young girl in one of the convents, whose uncanny resemblance to the King’s deceased wife gave him an excellent idea: Yuri changed into women’s clothing, sneaked into the cloister, and convinced the girl to leave with him and become the King’s mistress. The old King was so taken with the young version of his beloved wife that he appointed Yuri Mnishek the chamberlain, manager of the King’s castle.

Using Yuri’s closeness to the King, the brothers obtained substantial influence on important affairs of state, practically taking over control of the King’s treasury. Their biggest moment came when the ailing King died. That night they packed and sent home many large heavy chests. The rumor was they had cleaned out the castle so well that the servants could not find proper clothes to dress the King’s body. The scandal, which started after the funeral, reverberated through the whole country and caused such an uproar that the Polish Senate convened a special hearing into the matter. Using their powerful connections, the brothers managed to escape severe punishment and emerged from this episode rich and still influential however their reputation had been damaged forever.

The next King, honest and strict Stefan Batory, kept the brothers away from the court. During his reign Mnishek served in the army for a number of years, participated in the war with Russia and was even rewarded by Batory. With the accession to the throne of Sigismund III, Yuri received another chance to get close to the seat of power. His superb skills as courtier and politician, plus his excellent manners and educated speech, allowed him to get into good graces of the new King. In 1588 he was put in charge of the royal residence in Sambor, including all the finances related to this estate.

The town of Sambor, situated between the River Dniestr and its tributary, was established in the late fourteenth century as an important military and trade outpost. Sambor’s geographical location favored the development of commerce, and Dniestr was an important waterway to the Black Sea. The land route, passing through Sambor to Hungary, was used to transport wines, timber, horses, leather, cloth, and grains. Another road led to Lvov, connecting the town with commercial routes from the east. In 1530 Sambor had five thousand inhabitants. It was built around a central square with a City Hall and a clock tower, and was surrounded by a thick wall and deep trenches.

The royal castle of Sambor consisted of several ugly but spacious buildings in a beautiful location on the left bank of the River Dniestr, outside the town walls. The castle was really a small fortress on its own, surrounded by a thick wall and a moat. Inside the wall there were the king’s palace, the smaller queen’s palace, and a church. Besides the main buildings there were countless other structures — stables, servant quarters, guesthouses, barns, kitchens, and storage sheds.

Yuri Mnishek, the Lord of Sandomier, commanded a garrison composed of infantry and cavalry, and was responsible for maintaining peace and security in the city and its vicinity, fighting Hungarian gangs, Cossack raiders, Russian marauders, and local bandits. In early times the royal castle of Sambor had witnessed many magnificent feasts given by Polish kings, but His Majesty King Sigismund III and his wife never visited Sambor. Mnishek had full authority to use this entire estate for himself, providing the family with a luxurious if somewhat dull life.

In 1604 Mnishek was nearly fifty years old. He was a corpulent man with a thick neck, an oblong head with a high forehead, a small beard, and crafty blue eyes. He had five sons and five daughters, of whom Marina was the youngest. He spared no effort to project wealth and power. The duties of a senator of the Republic and maintenance of residences appropriate to a person of his stature with servants, valets, stables, a retinue of local nobles, and luxurious parties for hundreds of guests, all took a lot of money. Family expenses always exceeded his income but he had managed to stay afloat until January of 1603, when his oldest daughter Ursula married Prince Konstantin Vishnevetski. The costs of the happy occasion, a magnificent wedding ceremony, sacred donations, guests, entertainment, and dowry, made a fatal dent in family’s finances. Just when the wedding of his daughter had brought great honor and valuable relatives for the family, Mnishek was obliged to inform His Majesty he would be unable to remit royal rents on Sambor, and for all practical purposes he was bankrupt. This situation had arisen before, and His Majesty had always been patient, but this time it was too much. An officer in His Majesty’s service arrived in Sambor with full authority to investigate and take all necessary measures, including an official announcement of bankruptcy and sequestration. That meant ruin, dishonor, loss of property, and public shame. Mnishek sold one personal estate (an inheritance from his father), and this money together with a request for a reprieve, granted him a temporary postponement. Mnishek was on the brink of the abyss, and it seemed that only a miracle could save him.

And a miracle happened! Just at the moment when things seemed to be going from bad to worse, he received a letter from his new son-in-law, asking advice on how to proceed with an extraordinary chain of events started by Konstantin’s brother Adam. Mnishek, the old intriguer and skillful politician, immediately recognized an opportunity of such magnitude that, if played right, held the promise of wealth and power beyond belief. He immediately wrote to Konstantin, asking him and Adam to come to Sambor. A chance like this comes once in a lifetime, wrote Mnishek, but it could be as dangerous as profitable, and, therefore, must be discussed and thought over very carefully.

Marina knew nothing about the stained family history or her father’s plans, but she had suspected things were not going well in the family. She was right. What she did not know was how much her father’s financial problems would affect her own future.

Chapter 3.

Gathering in Sambor (February 1604, Poland)

The Lord of Sandomier came out to greet his guests, both Princes, his daughter Ursula, and the man who was at the heart of the matter. His first impression of Dmitry was positive. The young man handled his horse with skill and expertise. He looked strong and brave and possessed a graceful posture and courteous, self-assured manners. Soon it became apparent that Dmitry was also extremely intelligent and well educated, with a good mastery of Polish and Russian and admirable understanding of Polish customs and etiquette. If he was a pretender, he was superb for the role.

After the customary greetings the guests were shown to their quarters to rest after the long ride. The next evening, the lord of the manor, the venerable Lord of Sandomier, Yuri Mnishek, and his wife the illustrious Pani⁷ Jadwiga gave a stately dinner in honor of their aristocratic quests. Many local nobles were invited to the event.

The arriving guests rode through the castle’s gates to the main portico at the entrance into the main palace decorated with Mnishek’s coat-of-arms. From there they walked through an anteroom, packed with servants, who approached every guest bringing a basin with water and towels. After they washed hands, the guests were directed to the encrusted high double doors where they were met by the major-domo who announced their names. The double doors led to a huge dining room, connected to three more halls used for dancing. Ceilings and walls were painted and ornamented with rich decorations. Finely carved cornices and painted-glass windows in golden frames were set with thick velvet curtains, embroidered with intricate gold and silver patterns. Priceless Persian and Turkish rugs on the walls and woven tapestries on the tables depicted episodes of hunting, love scenes, stories from Greek mythology, and famous battles. Chairs, made of expensive wood, were upholstered in thick, decorated fabrics. Oil portraits of the King and Queen, Lord of the manor, his wife, and their ancestors decorated the walls. One corner of the dining hall was set with a pyramid of silver and gold-plated plates, dishes, goblets, and vases. In the opposite corner of the hall, on the podium behind a railing, an orchestra played Polish music during dinner.

Guests were offered seats at the tables according to a carefully prepared roster. Each table was covered by three layers of tablecloths and set with gold and silver goblets for wine, bowls of fruit, and plates with spices. Women sat together with men, taking part in lively and pleasant conversation. A small army of servants bustled among the tables, changing plates and bringing new dishes. Every rich noble was especially proud of the skills of his chef and tried to impress his guests with the abundance and variety of his food. Baked, fried, boiled and roasted siskins, sparrows, larks, cuckoos, roosters, each prepared with a different sauce, and dozens of meats, including wild boar, bear, and deer. It was impossible to count all the different dishes that were brought in by the servants during the dinner, which took several hours. Specially trained servants scurried between the tables with silver pitchers and bottles of the best wines and beers from Italy, Germany, Hungary, and Spain. But the real show of the chef’s mastery came with dessert: confections made in the form of whole cities, with houses, streets, churches, trees, flowers and even figurines of people and animals, all made out of sugar. In honor of the unusual guest, the main spot on the table was occupied by an enormous cake depicting the Kremlin, complete with walls, palaces, and cathedrals, with a small statue of Dmitry himself sitting on the throne under the emblem of a two-headed eagle. After dinner the orchestra played a polonaise while the guests danced.

One episode during this evening provided excitement and wonder. One of Lord Mnishek’s servants, who had been captured by the Russians during Batory’s siege of Pskov, had lived for many years in Russia and often saw the young Tsarevich Dmitry. When brought into the dining hall, this man without hesitation went directly to Dmitry, bowed to him with his hand touching the floor in the Russian manner, and publicly declared he had no doubts — this young man was the son of Ivan IV. Everyone in the immense dining room froze, stunned by the significance of the moment. Then in silence these proud Polish aristocrats bowed their heads to the son of the tsar whose name had always been a synonym for an enemy of Poland. This public event completely changed Dmitry’s status. He was no longer a pretender, a would-be Tsarevich, a man with a good story and a diamond cross, and no support besides a small band of mad Cossacks. After this moment everyone, the noble guests, the Vishnevetski Princes, the Lord of Sandomier and his family, saw him as the offspring of the legendary Ruriks, inheritor of their eminence and power, legitimate successor to the throne of mighty Russia. This was the most memorable moment of the evening. Of course, later supporters of Dmitry hailed these events as a proof of his identity while his opponents dismissed them charging that it was orchestrated by the host.

Another event that was to have even more affect on the fate of those involved in this story largely escaped the public’s attention. The impeccably dressed Marina was introduced to the royal guest by her parents. The Lord of Sandomier made an introduction then immediately returned to his responsibilities as a host, but Pani Jadwiga, a woman and a mother, continued to watch, not missing a moment of this encounter. For the rest of the evening Dmitry followed Marina around struck by feelings he had never experienced before. He was not just impressed, he was startled, dazzled, stunned by the exquisite dress, elegant speech, and free manners of this European-educated, free-spirited and clever young lady.

That night, after the guests had retired to their quarters and Pani Jadwiga finally had a moment to talk to her husband, she mentioned her impression of this encounter without giving the episode any particular importance. While it was not the first time Marina had impressed a young man, it immediately became clear that this subject was very important to her husband. He abruptly turned to her and asked her to describe the whole scene not missing a single detail. After she had relayed her impressions, he sat silently for quite a while immersed in deep thoughts. Jadwiga knew her husband well. Mnishek had told her about the depth of financial ruin facing their family, and she suspected that he was working on some rescue plan that included the young Prince. Finally he raised his head, looked at Jadwiga, and asked her to pay close attention to any contact between Dmitry and Marina in the future, and to report her impressions to him immediately. What happened between Dmitry and Marina would be highly important to him.

The next day, after the guests had left and the castle was returned to its usual orderly condition, the real work began. Yuri Mnishek was a serious and meticulous man and knew that the outcome of the dangerous game he was starting, and his own fate, would depend upon his understanding of the situation in Russia. Being a learned man and a Senator of the Republic, he had a good knowledge of Russian history and Polish-Russian relations, and had full access to government archives. He had done his homework while waiting for his guest to arrive, and by now had a good grasp of the events that lead to the appearance in his house of someone who claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne of the late famous Russian Tsar Ivan The Terrible.

Chapter 4.

The End of a Dynasty

It all began with Russian Tsar Ivan IV, better known in history as Ivan The Terrible, the tyrant, whose mad cruelty devoured uncounted thousands of innocent people. Ivan was born on September 5, 1530, and crowned in 1547. The beginning of Ivan’s reign was favorable for Russia. His most important achievements were the conquest of Siberia and breaking the hold of the Tatars over Russia forever.

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