Russian History. A period of great achievement To what extent do you agree with this assessment of Sophias tenure as regent from 1682-1689?

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‘A period of great achievement’ To what extent do you agree with this assessment of Sophia’s tenure as regent from 1682-1689.

Sophia came to power after the Streltsy revolt, there was no opposition – Matveev was dead, Natalya was overwhelmed by the tragedy that had engulfed her family, peter was a boy of ten.  But peter was still tsar, as he grew older, he would try to assert his power; the Naryshkins would collect influence, and this Miloslavsky victory would prove only temporary.  Sophia’s plan required another step. On May 23, prompted by her agents, the Streltsy demanded a change in the occupancy of the Russian throne. In a petition sent to Khovansky, whom Sophia already had appointed as their commander, the Streltsy pointed out there was a certain illegality to peter’s election as tsar; he was the son of the second wife, while Ivan, the son of the first wife and the older of the two boys, had been shunted aside. It was not proposed that peter be dethroned; he was the son of a tsar, he had been elected and then proclaimed by the patriarch. Instead, the Streltsy demanded that peter and Ivan rule jointly as co-tsars. If the petition was not granted, they threatened to attack the kremlin.

Ruling under the guidance of her chief adviser and lover, Prince Vasily V. , Sophia took steps to consolidate her regime. To prevent the unreliable Streltsy from reversing their position and removing her, she replaced their commander, Ivan Andreyevich Khovansky (who was executed for treason), with one of her favourites, Fedor Shaklovity. In addition, she transferred 12 of the 19 Moscow regiments from the city to guard the frontier and revoked many of the privileges she had granted the troops when she seized power.

Sophia also promoted the development of industry and encouraged foreign craftsmen to settle in Russia. Despite Golitsyn’s numerous plans for domestic reform, however, the regent failed to meet discontent among the peasants and religious dissidents. She also overruled several of her advisers and approved Golitsyn’s plan to conclude a permanent peace with Poland, in 1686 which confirmed a truce of 1667, by which Russia obtained Kiev and the territory east of the Dnieper River in exchange for a promise to join a European coalition against the Turks; in 1687 and 1689 she sponsored two disastrous military campaigns, led by Golitsyn, against the vassals of the Turks, the Crimean Tatars. Although her government also concluded the favourable Treaty of Nerchinsk with China (1689), setting Russia’s eastern border at the Amur River, Golitsyn’s failures reinforced the increasing dissatisfaction among both the Naryshkins and the general population with her rule. Recognizing this and hoping to eliminate Peter, the figurehead of her rivals, Sophia tried once more to incite the Streltsy against the Naryshkins in August 1689; many of the Streltsy colonels, however, supported Peter, who overthrew Sophia and forced her to enter the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow in September 1689.

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Although Sophia emerged on the scene during the dynastic struggles of 1682, her prior influences can help to explain her regency. At the previous change of rule, Sophia may have acted in the interest of her brother, Fedor, as various rumours exist of her pleading the dying Alexis not to proclaim Peter the heir. Fedor’s capability to lead the Russia raised questions, based on his sickly nature and poor health. His mental ability developed quite nicely, however, as he was taught by Simeon Polotsky. During his brief reign, many historians argue that Fedor actually ‘ruled under the protectorate of Sophia ...

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