Russian History. A period of great achievement To what extent do you agree with this assessment of Sophias tenure as regent from 1682-1689?
‘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 his sister.’ As his health began to decline, more individuals rose up to counsel Fedor, and Sophia found her influence steadily declining. Taking advantage of a courtroom never open to a woman in her position, she utilized her connections, making allies and formally planning on securing the throne. As Fedor’s poor health caught up to him, Sophia immediately erupted onto the political scene, attending her late brother’s funeral and causing a commotion while doing so. In Sophia’s age, the female relatives of the Tsar were kept away from the courtroom and other political workrooms, and funerals were traditionally carried on without the women. In her way, Sophia stormed the funeral, insisting on her presence and simultaneously setting off a chain of events that would result in her regency.
The Miloslavsky party took advantage of the to place Sophia on the seat of power. As Alexis descended from the throne, he left behind him two separate families, both of which boasted at least one rightful heir. As the clans of Alexis' two wives embraced in conflict, Sophia crafted her scheme to ensure power for her and her family. Promoting the case of her brother Ivan V, a legitimate heir to the throne, Sophia attempted to convince the patriarch and the boyars that their recent decision to crown Peter should be reversed. Insisting that Peter’s election breaks monarchic laws by skipping over her brother, who would have been next in line to rule if not for his ineptitude, she proposed a shared crown with Ivan. Upon the court’s swift and unanimous rejection of dual tsars, Sophia reached to the discouraged military troop, the Streltsy, for their aid and support. The unjust dismissal of Ivan’s reign acted as a catalyst to the already displeased and frustrated troops. Multiple issues, including merciless motivational tactics and lack of rest, drove the Streltsy to violently oppose the ‘unjust’ election of Peter. As the fighting ceased and Peter’s life was left forever scarred by the blood spilt within his Naryshkin clan, the Streltsy received their initial demands. Following the momentum of the Streltsy rebellion, the incompetent Ivan was crowned senior tsar and Peter, of only nine years, junior tsar. Despite her gender, Sophia had been deemed the sole intellectually mature royalty at the time of Fedor’s death, making her the favourite to govern in place of the child, Peter, and the inept Ivan. Using the education and political savvy she acquired by Fedor’s side, she convinced the nobles and patriarch of her capacities to rule Russia. As Sophia had arranged before her brother’s death, was installed as a de facto head of government, responsible for most of the policies during her regency.
When the joined the rebels in the fall of 1682 and demanded the reversal of , Sophia lost control of the unsteady Streltsy to her once ally, Prince . After aiding Sophia in May, Khovansky used his influence with the troops to force her court to flee the and seek refuge in the . The rebels, who instigated the rebellion, hoped to depose Sophia and to make Prince Ivan Khovansky a new regent, to satisfy their increasing desire for concessions. Calling together the gentry militia, Sophia managed to suppress the so-called with the help of , who succeeded Khovansky in charge of the Muscovite army. Silencing the dissatisfied parties until Peter reached of his age of majority; Sophia executed Khovansky and the other figureheads of the attempted rebellion.
During the seven years of her regency, Sophia made a few concessions to monastery and loosened detention policies towards runaway peasants, which caused dissatisfaction among the nobles. She also made an effort to further the organization of the military. Notably intrigued by baroque style architecture, Sophia held responsibility for the promotion of the foreign district, and the creation of the , the first Russian higher learning institution. The most important highlights of her foreign policy, as engineered by Galitzine, were the with , the 1689 with , and the against . Although spearheaded by Prince Galitzine, Sophia’s reign oversaw two of the earliest diplomatic treaties and underwent inner growth and progress. Despite her other achievements, Sophia’s influence and effect on a young Peter remains as the most historically significant portion of her reign, as the rebellion of 1682 bred a distrust in nobility that came to define his leadership.
Sophia Miloslavsky’s regency retained the trappings of a typical regent, and the true tsar was growing into his position every year. At the age of 16, Peter I demanded that Galitzine report to him regarding all matters, and the prepared for their long awaited ascension to power. In 1688, Peter began to promote within his clan and Sophia remained powerless to the gradual shift in control. During this time period, the regent disregarded the young tsar, letting him train his Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky Guards in Preobrazhenskoe. Although some historians claim Sophia made conscious attempts to dull Peter, and remove him from the political world, her involvement remains unclear. Sophia and her party had discussed crowning her as tsarina, and in August 1687 had tried persuading the Streltsy to petition on her behalf. Denying their aid, Sophia and her supporters found themselves on the decline in 1688, as the Crimean war brought rioting and unrest to Moscow. To worsen the situation, Peter had married, readying himself for rule, and Ivan V fathered a girl, eliminating any potential claim to the throne from that branch. Tensions between the two factions continued to grow, until Peter I turned 17 years of age, his Naryshkin relatives demanded Sophia to step down. In response, Shaklovityi advised Sophia to proclaim herself and attempted to induce the to a new uprising. Most of the Streltsy units, however, deserted downtown for the suburb of and later for the , where the young tsar was living. Feeling the power slipping from her hands, Sophia sent the boyars and the Patriarch to Peter, asking him to join her in the Kremlin. He flatly refused her overtures, demanding Shaklovityi's execution and Galitzine's exile.
After Sophia agreed to surrender her senior boyars, she was arrested and forced to withdraw into the without formally taking the veil. Sophia may have plotted one last attempt at securing power, although her involvement is unclear. Regardless of her conscious effort, her fate was sealed ten years later, when the in the Kremlin during Peter's absence from the country. This uprising was suppressed with an iron hand, and soon the corpses of the rebels were suspended in front of Sophia's windows. Having taken the veil, she was kept in the strictest seclusion, with other nuns not allowed to see her except on day. She died in the Novodevichy Convent 6 years later.
Although Sophia was guided by outsiders, she therefore made mistakes which didn’t help Russia. She did create better connections with the countries surrounding Russia. She tried to stop the Turks even if she was unsuccessful. She achieved little bits for Russia but nothing was of great achievement. She also had the shadow of peter and his family hanging over her, there was always the threat of peter trying to take over power.