Biography of Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov - boyar, brother-in-law of Tsar Fedor I Ioannovich, in 1587-1598 the de facto ruler of the state, since February 17, 1598 - Russian tsar.

Boris Godunov, along with Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, is one of the most mysterious personalities in the history of the rulers of Russia. That is why there is still heated debate about his biography.

For 7 years of his reign, Godunov killed quite a few people and subjected the country to a terrible famine. In general, his biography is controversial and full of secrets.

Simultaneously with the brutal methods of management, Godunov managed to strengthen the borders of the state, as well as to build water supply and a lot of fortifications. Alexander Pushkin dedicated to him the tragedy, which he called his name - "Boris Godunov."

In this article we will review the main events of the Godunov biography and briefly describe the most interesting facts from his life.

So before you brief biography of Godunov.

Short biography of Boris Godunov

To date, the exact date of birth of Boris Fedorovich Godunov remains unknown.

Biographers claim that he was born in 1552 in Vyazma, in the family of a landowner. His father, Fyodor Ivanovich, owned estates near Vyazma and Kostroma.

According to one legend, the Godunov family comes from the Tatar prince Chet, who settled in Russia during the reign of Ivan Kalita. However, other researchers of Godunov’s biography have questioned this version.

When in 1565, Tsar Ivan the Terrible, in his desire to have absolute power, divided Russia into land and oprichnina, the possessions of the Godunovs became part of the oprichnich lands.

Soon Boris's uncle, Dmitri Ivanovich, enrolled in the oprichny case. Over time, his military career went up, with the result that he became the head of the bed order.

Childhood and youth

After the death of his father, Boris Godunov, along with his sister Irina, was in the family of his uncle, who took care of their upbringing.

But since Dmitry Ivanovich was often on the road, he could not pay much attention to his nephew and niece. In this regard, he gave them to the Kremlin, where the children did not lack anything.

Probably, this seriously affected the whole subsequent biography of Boris Godunov.

Approaching the royal retinue

Interestingly, Ivan the Terrible repeatedly spoke with Boris Godunov on various topics, and even allowed him to write down his thoughts and sayings.

At the same time, it is worth noting that the young man reacted extremely painfully to the usual mockery and torture of the accused criminals, whom he saw with his own eyes.

It was then that Boris Godunov realized that he needed to learn to control his emotions, because otherwise he could suffer the same fate.

One way or another, he was forced to take part in various tortures arranged by the king and his minions.

In 1570, Godunov became the oprichnik. Later he occupied the position of a kravchiy who had to keep track of food and drinks served to the royal table. In 1580, a significant event occurred in the biography of Godunov - he was awarded the title of boyar.

Boris Fedorovich was a very cautious and pragmatic man. He always tried to be in the shadows, watching developments from the sidelines. In the last year of the life of Ivan the Terrible, he became one of the closest monarch and had a great influence at court.

Briefly about who Boris Godunov is

Below you can see a summary of the main "identification marks" of Boris Godunov. So to say "briefly about the main thing."

Special signs of Boris Godunov

Godunov in the reign of Fedor

In 1581, Grozny, in a fit of anger, kills Ivan’s own son (according to another version, the son died of illness), with the result that Fyodor Ivanovich becomes the only candidate for the throne.

In the course of three years, Ivan the Terrible himself dies. An interesting fact is that it was Boris Godunov who was near the autocrat in the last minutes of his life, as a result of which his biography researchers assume that Godunov could have contributed to the king’s speedy death.

After that, his son Fyodor was on the throne, who absolutely could not control the state and needed a competent adviser. As a result, the Regent Council was formed, which included Shuisky, Belsky, Yuryev, Mstislavsky and Godunov.

Everyone understood that Fedor Ioannovich was not able to govern a huge country, as a result of which a struggle for power began between the boyars.

Interestingly, all those who fought for the throne often resorted to a forceful solution of this or that problem, while Boris Godunov used cunning and calculating. After a series of victories over his rivals, he had to deal with only one contender for the throne.

He was Tsarevich Dmitry, who was in exile at the insistence of his mother. As it turned out, the young man was gone in 1591, because during one of the epileptic seizures, he came across a knife. At least this is the official version of the death of the prince.

Reforms of Godunov

Thanks to high intelligence and caution, Boris Godunov actually ruled Russia for 13 years, hiding behind the name of Fyodor Ivanovich.

Interestingly, by that time the sister of Godunov, Irina, became the wife of the new king. During this time, many cities began to actively develop in Russia. In parallel with this, defenses and temples were erected.

Thanks to Boris Godunov in 1595 an agreement was concluded with the Swedes to end the war. As a result, several cities joined Russia.

In 1596, Godunov ordered the construction of the Smolensk fortress wall to protect against the Poles. Many potential opponents of Russia agreed that Moscow had turned into a huge fortress, which was almost impossible to take by storm.

It is worth noting that Boris Godunov established the Patriarchate, which allowed the Orthodox Church to gain independence from the Byzantine Patriarchate.

In addition, he freed from land taxes those landowners who independently worked on their land, without recourse to the help of employees.

Tsar Boris Godunov

Many history buffs wonder: was Godunov a king? Others formulate the idea differently: under which king of the rules Godunov?

Of course, within the framework of a brief biography, it is rather difficult to describe Godunov’s entire journey to power, but if we speak briefly about the main thing, then yes - Godunov was the Russian tsar.

Boris Godunov takes royal dignity

In 1598 Fyodor 1 Ivanovich died, after which his spouse Irina was temporarily on the throne. But since there were no direct heirs after the death of the king, the Zemsky Sobor elected Godunov as the new Russian tsar.

Board Godunov

The first years of the reign of Boris Godunov were quite successful. In 1599, he began to invite foreign masters to work, as he understood that Russia was not sufficiently developed in relation to Western countries.

An interesting fact is that before hiring one or another master, the king personally talked with him and only then made a decision.

A year later, Godunov opened a higher education institution in Moscow, in which exclusively foreign teachers taught. In addition, Russian teachers went to different European countries to improve their skills and gain experience.

In 1601 a strong famine began in the country due to crop failure, which most negatively affected the further biography of Godunov.

The king signed a decree on tax cuts, and also tried to do everything possible to help the people survive. To save people from starvation from the royal treasury, money was allocated and food was distributed.

During this terrible period of Russian history, the price of bread rose 100 times. The treasury and barns quickly became empty, so in order not to die of starvation people had to eat quinoa, dogs and cats.

Having cut all animals and birds, people often resorted to cannibalism. According to the calculations of modern historians, more than 120,000 people died from hunger then.

Tsar Boris Godunov

The quiet discontent of society turned into open protests, and soon rumors began to appear that God was punishing Russia for the illegal succession of Godunov.

In general, the story that Godunov is not God's chosen king, accompanied Boris Fedorovich throughout his biography.

Soon, unrest began to flare up, which quickly grew into riots. The insurgent peasants engaged in battles with the tsarist army, trying to seize power in their hands.

Then rumors began to appear that Tsarevich Dmitry was alive, and his death was nothing but an invention.

False Dmitry

Boris Godunov was well aware that there are a lot of people on the side of the False Dmitry. Later it turns out that the monk-defrocked Gregory Otrep'ev was posing as the son of Ivan the Terrible.

The impostor managed to make the Russian people believe that he was the prince Dmitry.

Soon, in addition to the peasants, quite a few soldiers from the royal army went over to the side of the False Dmitry. However, Grigory-Dmitriy failed to overthrow Godunov, as a result of which he was forced to flee to Putivil.

Personal life

The only wife in the biography of Boris Godunov was the daughter of Malyuta Skuratov - Maria. She was a docile and beautiful girl, supporting her husband in everything.

For 10 years of marriage, the couple did not have a single child. Doctors assumed that Mary was a barren woman from birth.

In this regard, Godunov invited an English doctor to examine his wife and help her have a baby.

After 2 years, they had a girl Xenia. After that, the boy Ivan was born, who died in infancy due to an accident.

Maria later gave birth to the boy Fedor, who became a real joy for the king. The father did his best to give his son the best education. Fedor was taught by the best European and Moscow teachers.


During the last years of his biography, Boris Godunov suffered from urolithiasis, as well as frequent migraine attacks.

On April 13, 1605, he felt good and ate a lot. Suddenly his state of health sharply deteriorated, in connection with which he received medical assistance.

However, the situation continued to deteriorate, and after a few hours, Godunov was bleeding from the ears and nose. In the afternoon he lost his senses and died.

The next king in Russia was the son of Godunov - Fedor Borisovich, whose reign lasted less than 2 months. When news of the death of Godunov circled the country, the False Dmitry entered his city with his army.

On the same day, on the orders of Golitsyn, all members of the Godunov family were killed, with the exception of Xenia, who fainted.

However, despite the fact that she remained alive, she happened to experience a lot of humiliation. She was made the concubine of False Dmitry, who abused her, and then sent her to a monastery.

Boris Godunov was buried in the Cathedral of the Archangel, but at the height of the mutiny the coffin had to be moved to the Varsonofyevsky monastery. After 2 years, Vasily Shuisky issued a decree to re-bury the Godunov family in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.

Watch the video: Борис Годунов. Избранный царствовать. Boris Godunov. Chosen to rule (February 2020).