The sickly Ivan V was nothing more than a puppet for his siblings during his reign as Tsar. His health continued to decline during the regency of his sister Sophia, and it only worsened when Peter (the Great) finally seized power in 1689. Peter allowed Ivan to continue to co-rule with him even though his half-brother, by then, had become senile and partially blind. Peter finally became the sole Tsar when Ivan V finally died in 1696. These events are recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History during that time.
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Ivan V (born September 6, 1666) was the third son and second youngest of Tsar Alexei’s thirteen children by Maria Miloslavskaya. Ivan was not expected to rule, but the death of his older brothers Alexei (1670) and Feodor (1682) thrust him to spotlight. He suffered from scurvy, blindness, and mental illness, but his conditions did not stop his sister Sophia from declaring him co-ruler with their healthy and intelligent half-brother Peter.
The two boys started to co-rule in 1682, but it was Tsarevna Sophia herself who wielded greater power. Ivan’s condition worsened, but Peter grew to be a healthy, intelligent, and rambunctious boy under his half-sister’s alarmed gaze. To ensure that the Miloslavskys would always remain powerful, Sophia married Ivan off to a noblewoman named Praskovia Saltykova in 1684. The couple’s (and Sophia’s) priority was to beget an heir, but no one was surprised when an heir failed to materialize during the early years of his marriage.
The Naryshkins were also busy marrying Peter off to secure an heir. In 1689, his mother Natalya organized a bride-show and chose a noblewoman named Eudoxia Lopukhina as Peter’s wife. Despite Peter’s disinterest, he and Eudoxia were married in January of the same year. To everyone’s amazement, Ivan’s wife Praskovia gave birth to a daughter three months later.
Praskovia gave birth to four more daughters, but rumors spread that another man had fathered the girls instead of the feeble-minded Ivan. Power had been slipping from Sophia’s grasp and it made her more anxious to get rid of Peter. In late 1689, she accused Peter of trying to murder Ivan and the whole royal family so that he alone could rule. She secretly sent her henchman, Feodor Shaklovity, to murder Peter, but the Tsar got wind of her plans. Peter and his family were forced to flee to a monastery for their safety.
Peter as the Sole Ruler of Russia and the Death of Ivan V
She then tried to turn the Streltsy against her half-brother by telling them that he tried to murder Ivan. The plot failed this time. Peter demanded that she give up Shaklovity, but was forced to give him up to the Tsar after her initial refusal. Shaklovity endured torture before finally admitting that Sophia planned to have her half-brother murdered so she could rule alone. Shaklovity was beheaded after his confession, while Sophia was imprisoned at the Novodevichy Convent for the rest of her life.
Ivan V and Peter continued to be on good terms and co-ruled as Tsars after this episode. Peter soon sealed his hold on the throne with the birth of his heir, Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, on February 18, 1690. He spent most of his time with his troops and left Ivan V as a titular ruler in Moscow. Peter’s close associates or “new men” assisted him as administrators.
Picture by: Godfrey Kneller – www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/405645/peter-the-great-tsar-of-russia-1672-1725, Public Domain, Link
Lieven, Dominic, ed. The Cambridge History of Russia: Imperial Russia, 1689-1917. Vol. II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Montefiore, Simon Sebag. The Romanovs: 1613-1918. New York, Vintage Books, 2017.
The Encyclopedia Americana: The International Reference Work. Vol. 15. Americana Corporation, 1958.
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