Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov became the first Russian Tsar of the house of Romanov after the zemskiy sobor of 1613 elected him to rule the Tsardom of Russia. After many years of lawlessness, Michael was elected Tsar of all Russia. The Swedish were attacking Russia, in 1617 the Treaty of Stolbovo was signed. The next threat was by the Polish, the poles reached the Kremlin, in 1618 the Truce of Deulino was signed with the Pols, however, many issues remained unsolved. Michael managed to gain the release of the Polish prisoners, which included his father. Mikhail had lost a potential bride days before the wedding and then had another bride die four months after the wedding. It was suspected his mother has something to do with both incidences. At age 28 Mikhail married Eudoxia Streshneva, Michael fathered 10 children with her only four survived infancy.

Mikhail formed an army to reclaim lost land to Poland, first he reorganised the army introducing new weapons and equipment. New regiments were formed with eight companies of 200 men each had 120 musketeers and eighty pipe men. New lighter weight muskets were bought by 1632 ten new regiments had been formed with the strength of 17,000 men. After two years of fighting Russia and Poland sign Peace treaty of Polianov.

Under Mikhail’s reign, the first steel making plant was opened. Twelve years after that they opened an arms manufacturing plant, they then began to export arms to some of most developed countries Europe.

Mikhail sought to rebuild Russia’s culture, he did this by assembling libraries. Just thirty years after the time of trouble Russia was restored to its glory days, trade and agriculture were on the rise, people had enough to eat and felt safe. It was an age of economic and political stability.

Mikhail died at the age of 49. Aleksey Mikhailovich son of Mikhail took over as Tsar. He was committed to the care of his tutor Boris Morozov, a shrewd boyar open to Western ideas        

On 17 January 1648 Morozov procured the marriage of the tsar with Maria Miloslavskaya, himself marrying her sister, Anna, ten days later, both daughters of Ilya Danilovich Miloslavsky Alexei's first marriage to Miloslavskaya. She bore him thirteen children (five sons and eight daughters) in twenty-one years of marriage and died only weeks after her thirteenth childbirth. Four sons survived her, (Alexei, Fyodor, Semyon, and Ivan), but within six months of her death, two of these were dead, including Alexei, the 15-year-old heir to the throne.

Boris Morozov had amassed enough wealth that he had become the second richest person in all of Russia. The Russian people revolted against the Tsar and made demands that he cut government spending and reinvest in the economy of Russia. Morozov rose the tax on salt by four-time its value leaving most of the people wanting; salt was their foods main preservative.  Morozov’s house was sacked and there were revolts all across Russia. To appease the people the Tsar executed 60 corrupt officials but not Morozov, he exiled him to a monastery 300 miles from the Kremlin.

In result to the salt riots, the National Assembly was urgently convened. It advised the Tsar that only a special legal code could restore order. A commission was established which the Tsar took an active role. The result was a legal code that sought to consolidate all the States existing laws into one single document for the first time at would prove to be the cornerstone of Russia for centuries to come.

When Charles I of England was beheaded by the Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell in 1649, an outraged Alexei broke off diplomatic relations with England and accepted Royalist refugees in Moscow. He also banned all English merchants from his country.

While the Tsar was away news broke out that there was a plague in Moscow. The Tsar and his family were quarantined far from Moscow. Moscow was one of the largest cities in Europe with a population of about 300 thousand after the plague there was only 150 thousand still living. If plague struck the army it would have been disastrous, but the Treasury was in Moscow and the Army had to be paid, The Tsar Alexie ordered that all the coins be washed in soap and lime before the payment. It worked the army did not get the plague.

Again the Russian found themselves at war with Poland, the war lasted thirteen years 1654-1667. In the Truce of Andrusovo, the Russian finally won back lands lost in earlier wars.

 

Because of the lack of silver and gold, Alexei introduced a copper coin, however, taxes still had to be paid in silver. The copper coins began to deflate in value. Within five years a single silver ruble was worth 15 copper rubles. 1662 the people rebelled against the copper coins, Alexei promised that the issue would be resolved and even swore an oath to it. The people kept arriving to protest so Alexei had hidden troops surround them when he saw they were in place he gave the order and the slaughter began. 2500 people were killed within a few hours. The revolt was repressed but the copper coins had to be withdrawn. 

     

After Miloslavskaya died, Alexei married Natalya Naryshkina, a year and a half later Naryshkina gave birth to a son, to history he would be known as Peter the Great.

Tsar Alexei became obsessed with growing old and hid health, he started taking various herbs, consulting his doctors daily and participated in bloodletting. In January 1666 Alexei caught a cold which he decided to treat himself it didn’t work. Later that month he received the last rights and endorsed his son Feodor as the next Tsar of Russia. He died the following night age 46.

      

The young Tsar Feodor III, 15 years old at the time of his coronation, was sickly he had to be carried to his own coronation. Many wondered aloud at the coronation whether the Tsar has much life left in him. He had been sick with scurvy since childhood, it led to anaemia it also caused his limbs to swell. Being a sickly child he was unable to participate in outdoor games and instead spent his time studying, he had received an excellent education at the hands of Simeon Polotsky, The young Tsar excelled in philosophy, theology, rhetoric and poetry. He spoke Polish and Latin. He opened a music library and sang well. His greatest passion was for horse breeding. Feodor was badly injured in a horse sledding accident when he was 13.

Feodor was an enthusiastic follower of the latest European trends, he wanted to be a reformer, to sweep away all that was outdated and backward in Russia and bring in all the latest fashions and innovations from the west. But his illness left him effectively sidelined, a prisoner in his own palace.

Control of the government fell to his Uncle Ivan Miloslavskaya and their family. Miloslavskaya dismissed the department of secret affairs and accounting the former instruments of royal government. He took over the great treasury which controlled state finance and the department of ambassadors which controlled foreign policy. Other departments were distributed amongst his family and friends. In just a few years the total number of government departments grew from 42 to 60 and the number of bureaucrats rose from 882 to 2762. This new administration was riddled with corrupt official many of whom were employed by the Miloslavskaya family.

 Ivan Miloslavskaya was dismissed from the Tsar court for trying to interfere with the Tsars plan to marry, he wanted the Tsar to marry into the Miloslavskaya family, however, the Tsar had already picked a bride. Fyodor's first consort, Agaphia Simeonovna Grushevskaya. On 11 July 1681, the Tsaritsa gave birth to her son, Tsarevich Ilya Fyodorovich, the expected heir to the throne. Agaphia died as a consequence of the childbirth three days later, on 14th July, and seven days later, on 21st July, the ten-days-old Tsarevich also died.

The Tsars first act upon his assumption of supreme nobility was too was summon all the nobles of the realm. They began with taxation, to support the Tsars standing Army a variety of small taxes were replaced with a large once a year tax every household was expected to pay 90 kopeks a year. By 1680 state revenues totalled 1.2 million rubles.

Next came a population census which identified 5.6 million people living in Russia. This only included taxpaying members in the heartland of Russia. If other new settlements were included the total would have been close to 12 million. This made Russia one of the most populated countries and largest due to land area.

Then came boundary reform existing boundaries were checked and new ones established, settling disputes over land ownership and fixing the boundaries of private estates, royal estates, and church lands.

Following that came Army reform most settled parts of Russia were divided into nine new military districts. From then on every regiment was tied to one of these districts, stationed there and did it's recruiting there.

To help fight injustices the court of partitions was reopened, a person of any rank or position could file a complaint to the chamber of judgment and to the Tsar personally. Tsar Feodor also reformed the penal system, including the abolishment of cutting off hand, feet, and fingers. A prisoner who would have received these punishments were now sent to Siberia instead.

Under Feodor Moscow which was built with wood, used to be destroyed by fire once every generation, had large parts of it rebuilt in stone. The state treasury offered 10-year interest-free loans to pay for the work. Most of these new mortgages were never repaid however they help to build 10,000 new houses.

Finally, the system of government where officials received their position my rank alone was abolished from now on appointments would be made on merit and the Tsars Judgment. The Tsar burnt the great books of rank, which catalogued the pedigree of all Russia’s noble families. The Tsar had bought in a new age in which good government to preside over the boyar’s ancient privileges.

The war in the south against the Ottoman Turks was an ever-growing problem in 1677 a 100,000 strong army of Crimean Turkish army invaded Ukraine. A Russian-Turkish army of 57,000 thousand soldiers despite being outnumbered two to one, managed to repel the invaders. In 1678 a Turkish army of 200,000 was defeated by a Russian army of 120,000. In 1681 the Treaty of Bakhchisarai was signed.

            

Seven months later, on 24 February 1682, Fyodor married a second time Marfa Apraksina (1667–1716), daughter of Matvei Vasilievich Apraksin and wife Domna Bogdanovna Lovchikova. Feodor died three months after his new wedding at the age of 20, on 7 May, without surviving issue. The news of his death sparked the Moscow Uprising of 1682.

Tsar Feodor the third ruled Russia for just five years but in that time he created the basis for one of the strongest armies in the world, introduced a system of social welfare, reduced taxation, expanded the borders of his realm, transformed Moscow from a city of wood to a city of stone and laid the foundation of a secular system of education. He approved the foundation of Russia’s first university but died before he could sign the charter. Upon his death, a dispute arose between the Miloslavsky family (Maria Miloslavskaya was the first wife of Alexis I) and Naryshkin family (Natalya Naryshkina was the second wife) over who should inherit the throne.

       

An hour a Feodor III death a boyar’s council declared Prince Peter the new Tsar, however, he was only eight years old.

The Moscow uprising of 1682, also known as the Streltsy uprising of 1682 was an uprising of the Moscow Streltsy regiments which resulted in supreme power devolving on Sophia Alekseyevna (the daughter of the late Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and of his first wife Maria Miloslavskaya). Behind the uprising lurked the rivalry between the Miloslavsky and Naryshkin relatives of the two wives of the late Tsar Alexei (died 1676) for dominant influence on the administration of the Tsardom of Russia.

On 17 May, the rebels once again stormed the royal residence and killed a number of Naryshkin supporters, including two of the Naryshkin brothers (Kirill and Ivan) in the presence of the young tsar Peter.

 

Sophia Alekseyevna was regent of Russia from 1682 to 1689, she was the daughter of Alexei and sister of Feodor III. None of the nine princesses were permitted to marry, none of the nobility was of sufficient rank and no foreigners shared their strict orthodoxy.

Just six weeks before the Streltsy has sworn allegiance to Peter now they had butchered his relatives and hand power to Sophia. The Princess was the first person to use the armed men to ensure she path to power. She realised that her position was precarious so she moved quickly to sure up her support. First, she ordered the payment of all outstanding debts to the Streltsy. Then she gave all her key posts to her allies.

Prince Ivan Andreyevich Khovansky led the Streltsy to occupied Moscow, the Russian capital had been occupied by its own army. Sophia had unleashed a dangerous power struggle that threatened to topple Russia into anarchy. Thankfully the Streltsy were not the only army in Russia, now she would turn to the nobles.

Sophia put herself in exile and wrote to all the nobles across the country asking for help. The assembled an army of 14,500 soldiers, this amounted to 10 percent of the army. The main part of the army 50 percent was 77,000 soldiers were regiments of the new order, the troops in revolt the Streltsy made up 35 percent of the army. 

Time was running out for Khovansky, is arrogance had made him many enemies. The Princess Regents agents court him a brought him to her outside Moscow, read him his crimes of mutiny and then her men beheaded him. The revolt was over and Sophia returned to Moscow.

Ruling under the guidance of her chief adviser and lover, Prince Vasily V. Golitsyn, Sophia took steps to consolidate her regime. In 1686 negotiations began with Russians neighbour the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Golitsyn leads a series of discussions that lead to the signing of a treaty of peace in Moscow. This bound the kingdoms of John III Sobieski and Princess Sophia to an alliance this was the crowning achievement of Russian foreign policy in the 17th century.

Princess Sophia planned to have Tsar Peter and his family murdered, Peter and his entourage escaped and swear that he would take down Sophia, now that he was of age. The mood in Moscow was changing and it was directed at Princess Sophia. Boyar’s and nobility began to flock to Peter’s royal court. Princess Sophia attempted to see Peter but she was turned back. In Moscow, she gave a conspiratorial speech claiming the Peter aimed to divide Russia. Few believed her. She was arrested and held under guard in a monastery for nine years. She had her staff with her. So had organised for the Streltsy loyal to her to organise a coup, intent on reclaiming the Tsardom. The Streltsy were defeated and Peter was ruthless on the betrayers.

 

Princess Sophia was forced to take the veil, the boyars close to her were banished and her staff was changed. After seven years of rule, she spent 15 years in a monastery cell. She died 1704 age 46.

Peter spent many of his early years traveling in Europe incognito learning about industrial processes and trying to lure tradesmen and architects back to Russia. Peter changed the calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Peter grow the Russian army to 200,000 men supported by 100,000 Cossack soldiers. He created the largest and most modern army in Russian history. Peter’s outrageous taxes were bleeding people dry. The money paid for two large warships.

With is the modern army and artillery Peter was able to wage war with Sweden. Peter built the city St Petersburg on the Baltic Sea. Three years later the first warships would be launched from the admiralty shipyard. His dream of dominating the Baltic Sea was within reach. The construction of St Petersburg saw the deaths of over 100,000 workers.

  

He took Martha Skavronskaya as a mistress sometime between 1702 and 1704. Martha converted to the Russian Orthodox Church and took the name, Catherine. Though no record exists, Catherine and Peter are described as having married secretly between 23 Oct and 1 Dec 1707 in St. Petersburg. Peter valued Catherine and married her again (this time officially) at Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg on 9 February 1712. She would bare Peter eleven children and then eventually became Empress of Russia.

The Swedish armies marched upon Russia in 1709, the Russian armies met them. The battle raged for thirteen hours, it ended in a victory for Russia. The Battle of Poltava ended 100 years of Swedish dominance over Russia. The rest of Europe who considered Russia backward was now seen as a force to be reckoned with. 

 

Peter’s tax reform cantered on a pole tax which every male had to pay once a year. State revenue tripled providing Peter with the money for more projects. Peter wrote laws and decrees that governed every aspect of people lives. He saw the people of Russia as his children and he monitored them as such.

The 20 Years war with Sweden had to end and it ended with the Treaty of Nystad, which gave Russia St Petersburg and access to the Baltic Sea and with it a status us a European power.  The moment marked the end of the Russian Tsardom and the beginning of the Russian Empire. During the war he had his son Alexei killed for treason.

In 1724 Peter crowned his wife Catherine Empress, soon after the coronation it was discovered that Catherine was cheating on him. Peter who was a renowned womanizer but still he took brutal revenge on Catherine’s lover. 

  

Peter died between four and five in the morning 8 February 1725. 

    

Catherine took over from Peter after he died. Catherine was a partner who had very little interest in the running of the country. On May 1st, 1725 Catherine died.

Peter’s reforms had created an unstoppable momentum of their own. In St Petersburg palaces were rising above the shores of the Baltic, gardens were planted and wide boulevards were paved. They were the first in Russia to be lit by oil lamps. Cannon armed Russian warship stood out at sea. While Russia got its first printed newspaper with a circulation of 204,000. Merchants good travelled from St Petersburg to Moscow along newly dug canals. Advanced schools of Artillery, medicine, and navigation were opened and the academy of sciences was established. Nine foundries produced 7,000,000 pounds of cast iron per year and 200 pounds of copper. They supplied Russia’s new armaments businesses, they supplied muskets and canons for what was now one of the largest armies in the world.

Peter had dragged Russia from the middle ages to the modern world.

      

Russia fell into corruption and disarray after Peter died. On the throne was a twelve-year-old boy. This was a period of revolving leaders for Russia.

Peter II Alexeyevich reigned as Emperor of Russia from 1727 until his death. He was the only son of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich (son of Peter I of Russia by his first consort Eudoxia Lopukhina) and of Princess Charlotte of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Young Peter was a fan of excess. The court of 18th Century imperial Russia was a place of etiquette and excess.

He left the administration of the state to other. He was a binge drinker and loud and wild hunter. The Court were constantly trying to marry off the Tsar to women who would give their family a political edge.

Russia’s huge bureaucracy was left to fend for itself. The supreme Privy Council had been established by Catherine the first, to help her rule the empire or to be more exact to rule it for her. Officially it was only supposed to advise the monarch however, in reality, it was now governing Russia. During Peter II reign six nobles sat on the council. The Council was now running the country and the Dolgorukovs who sat on the Privy Council planned to keep it that way.

Peter II had been pursued to stop building ships and to move the capital back to Moscow from St Petersburg. In 1728 the emperor’s engagement to Ekaterina Alekseyevna Dolgorukova was announced. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, the Dolgorukovs kept Peter II constantly busy in case he changed his mind. Peter II was diagnosed with smallpox. Within a week it was clear that Peter II would not survive the Dolgorukovs were in despair all their planning appeared to be for nothing. Dolgorukovs tried to make him sign a will naming his betrothed Ekaterina Dolgorukova as his heir this would have taken the Tsardom out of Romanov hands and given it to the Dolgorukovs. Peter II was too sick to sign the document. On January 19th, 1730 Peter II died.

 

The Supreme Privy Council acted with indignation at the idea of handing the Tsardom to the Dolgorukovs, after all the Romanovs were the ruling family. If the male line was broken they would turn to the female line. The Privy Council discussed the candidates at length they decided on Anna Ioannovna was regent of the duchy of Courland from 1711 until 1730 and then ruled as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740.

The logic was  Possible candidates for the throne were the three surviving daughters of Ivan V, namely Catherine, Anna and Praskovya, and the two surviving daughters of Peter the Great, namely Anna and Elizabeth. Ivan V had been the older brother of Peter the Great and co-ruler with him, and by that reckoning, his daughters may be considered to have the prior right.

   

She had no-one she could trust in Moscow and was poor and uneducated therefore the council believed they could bend her to their will. To ensure that she didn’t have any surprise for the council, they made a contract for her to sign before accepting the Tsardom, The contract stipulated that she couldn’t declare war, make treaties, introduce new taxes, or spend state revenue, make promotions above the rank of colonel, give out land, sentence nobles to death, get married or appoint her successor. All these powers would remain in the supreme Privy Council. The Empress would only have control over her own income and the palace guards.

Nine days after Peter II death Anna signed the contract, the rule of Autocracy had been abolished the rules of an oligarchy were now in place. When she met her staff they told her many things from their conversations, like the people of Moscow were outraged by the conditions imposed upon her. That the Privy Council was despised by many of the nobles. She gathered her guards and select nobles and torn up the contract. Within a week the supreme Privy Council was dismissed within a month the Dolgorukovs were exiled to Siberia.

Anna's reign is often referred to as "The Age of Biron" after her German lover Ernst Johann Biron. The fact that he was married didn’t worry her. Anna herself was the secret mother of his youngest son Karl Ernst von Biron. Biron moved with his family into the palace with Anna. Together they formed Russia’s new unorthodox imperial family.

The empress assembled a new privy council to take care of government business. The Empress herself barely followed affair of state. She was more concerned with keeping her privilege. She didn’t even trust her own guards.

At Belgrade, in 1939 a treaty was signed to end the four-year conflict between Russia and the Ottomans. The war cost the Russian army about 46,000 men, only one in eight died in battle, the rest the remaining 40,000 died from disease, starvation, and Neglect.

Anna was glad the war was over but she was more concerned with moving the court from Moscow back to St Petersburg. Anna was a lavish spender and spent about 260,000 rubles a year on the court. The running cost of her stables were about 100,000 rubles a year, while small scale expenditures by the empress ran at about 42,500 rubles a years. The Empress spent 47,000 rubles on jewellery, as much as it took to keep the academy of sciences going. Only 4,500 rubles was spent on public education. 

         

Anna two of her Jesters to marry, To celebrate the wedding, the Empress had an ice palace measuring thirty-three feet high and eighty feet long built together with icy beds, steps, chairs, windows and even logs of ice in a fireplace of ice with six ice cannons guarding the entrance. The groom and his bride were delivered in a cage on a top of an elephant to spend their wedding night in the ice palace. The bill for the party came to 30,000 rubles.

 

In September of 1740, Anna died of kidney stones inflammation and infection set in. One of her last acts was to sign a decree appointing a regent for the infant emperor Ivan, it was Ernst Biron. The Russian people felt no loss for the death of Empress Anna, Her reign would be remembered for excess and cruelty. Nevertheless, Anna did push forward the development of St Petersburg. Within two weeks of her death, all the plans she had made for her secession had fallen apart.

No-one was happy with the plan to have Ernst Biron appointed to the role as regent to the infant heir, so the guards stepped in again. The guards descended on the winter palace determined to capture Biron. By morning it was all over Russia had a new regent.

  

Ivan was born in August 1740 in Saint Petersburg, the eldest child of Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg by his wife, Duchess Anna Leopoldovna of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the only niece of the childless Empress Anna of Russia, and the only granddaughter of Tsar Ivan V. Ivan’s mother was named regent, and she was rumoured to be less intelligent than Anna.

Before any official action could be taken, the Empire changed hands again. This time it was Peter the Great’s daughter that Anna had feared so much, had finally made her move.  She entered Preobrazhensky Regiment. Arriving at the regimental headquarters wearing a warrior's metal breastplate over her dress and grasping a silver cross she and announced “Do you remember whose daughter I am, are you ready to die for me” The guards responded with loud cheers.

 

Elizabeth lead them to the winter Palace were the guards also quickly switched their allegiance. She entered the bedroom of Anna Leopoldovna with the words “sister it’s time to get up” she then when to the nursery of Emperor Ivan. Elizabeth left the palace with the child in her arms.

Ivan spent the rest of his life in various prisons and monasteries until he was accidentally killed during a failed rescue attempt at age 24. His parents spent the rest of their lives under guard far to the North so no-one was ever tempted to restore their family to the throne.

Elizabeth had much to do. First, she announced that she would restore the laws and state bodies that existed under her father. The Senate resumed its work as a legislative and judicial body. The ministerial cabinet was dismissed. Elizabeth would learn to keep a close eye on all of her advisors making sure none grow too powerful or challenged her authority. During her coronation, Elizabeth became the first Emperor to place the crown upon her own head. 

Elizabeth never forgot that it was the guards who put her into power, now she entrusted her life to them. She created a special unit to act as her bodyguards. She herself was the guard’s commanding officer and allowed them a lot of concessions. In reality, they were very good at their job, they would drink while on shift, leave their post and other questionable activities.

 

Eventually, she found her long-term companion in Alexis Razumovsky, a young and handsome Ukrainian peasant serf with a good bass voice. Razumovsky had been brought from his village to St. Petersburg by his master, a nobleman, to sing for a church choir. Elizabeth purchased the talented serf from the nobleman for her own choir. Razumovsky, a good-hearted and simple-minded man, never evidenced any personal ambition or interest in affairs of state during all the years of his relationship with Elizabeth which spanned from the days of her obscurity to the height of her power as empress.

Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov

Alexis\  I of Russia

Feodor III of Russia

Peter The Great

Peter II of Russia

Empress Anna Ioannovna

Ivan VI Antonovich

Elizabeth of Russia

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