Martha Sobakina

Born: 1552
Died: 1571

Martha Sobakina was the third wife of Ivan the Terrible. After the death of his second wife in 1569, the tsar ordered 1,500 girls to be brought to Moscow from all over Russia and assembled before him. His choice fell on Martha Sobakina, who was born in 1552 in the family of a merchant from Novgorod called Vasily Sobakin.

Martha married Ivan IV at the Convent of the Dormition in Alexandrovskaya Slobod? on 28 October 1571 (Boris Godunov was the best man). Two weeks later, on 13 November 1571, she died “with her virginity intact.” This episode forms the heart of Lev Mei’s drama The Tsar’s Bride (1849), which was turned into an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1898). Martha Sobakina was buried in the Convent of the Ascension in the Moscow Kremlin and later reburied in the Archangel Cathedral in 1929.

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