Feodor III

Born: 1661, Moscow
Died: 1682, Moscow

Feodor II was the ninth child and third son of Alexis Mikhailovich and Maria Miloslavskaya. He was born in Moscow on 30 May 1661 and crowned in the Dormition Cathedral on 18 June 1676. Educated by a monk called Simeon Polotsky, he knew Polish and Latin and was interested in painting, literature and music. He helped to design the Lesser Palace in the Moscow Kremlin, St Alexis’s Church in the Monastery of the Miracle and a palace in the village of Vorobyovo.

Feodor suffered from poor health after falling off a horse at the age of twelve. He was unable to put on his own hat and could only walk with the aid of a stick. Like his father, he suffered from scurvy and had a mild disposition, earning him the sobriquet “Feodor the Most Quiet.” Although the tsar disliked unnecessary ceremony, he was a stickler for order. He liked animals, opening a menagerie at Voskresenskoe and stud farms in other royal villages.

The sickly young tsar was under the sway of Ivan Yazykov and Alexei Likhachev – two members of non-aristocratic families. In 1680, they married him to Agatha Grushetskaya, the daughter of a waywode called Semyon Grushetsky. The following year, she died giving birth to a son called Ilya. In the short time that they were married, Feodor was hopelessly dominated by Agatha, who supported the opening of Polish and Latin schools in Moscow and the shaving of beards.

Feodor planned to create an inquisition after the West European model to combat religious schismatics, but did not live to do so. During his short reign, he nevertheless managed to do much good. He banned the practice of burying wives alive for the murder of their husbands (the sentence was commuted to imprisonment in a nunnery). The mutilation of thieves was also prohibited. The boyars were no longer kept by the local population. Promotion to government posts depended on the tsar’s personal opinion, rather than birth.

The streets of Moscow were repaired and new buildings were made of stone in the capital and other cities, including the Church of St John the Baptist in Yarsolavl, the Rostov Kremlin, the Krutitsy Monastery and the Printing Works in Moscow. A handsome copy of the Gospels was created in 1678, decorated with many drawings and 1,200 miniatures. Following the example of Kiev, a Slavonic, Greek and Latin Academy was opened in Moscow, where young people could receive a Byzantine education. The first multiplication table was printed in Russia. Feodor reformed the court dress, replacing Russian caftans with Western clothes.

The tsar remarried on 14 February 1682. This time, his choice fell on one of Ivan Yazykov’s relatives – the seventeen-year-old Maria Apraxina, daughter of an advocate called Matvei Apraxin.

Feodor III died in Moscow on 27 April 1682, two months after he married his second wife and one month before his twenty-first birthday. He was buried in the Archangel Cathedral. The tsar did not leave any surviving issue.

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