Grand Duchess of Moscow Sofia Paleologue and her role in history

This woman was credited with many important state actions. What is so distinguished Sophia Palaeologus? Interesting facts about it, as well as biographical information are collected in this article.

Cardinal's offer

In February, 1469, Ambassador Cardinal Vissarion came to Moscow. He handed the letter to the Grand Duke with a proposal to marry Sophia, the daughter of Theodore I, the despot of Morey. Incidentally, this letter also said that Sofia Paleologue (real name - Zoya, he was elected to replace the Orthodox for diplomatic reasons) had already refused two crowned suitors who had been wooing her. They were the Duke of Mediolan and the French King. The fact is that Sophia did not want to marry a Catholic.

Sofia Paleologue (photo of her, of course, can not be found, but the portraits are presented in the article), according to the notions of that far time, was already middle-aged. However, she was still very attractive. She had expressive, surprisingly beautiful eyes, as well as matte soft skin, which was considered in Russia a sign of excellent health. In addition, the bride differed the article and sharp mind.

Who is Sophia Fominichna Palaeologus?

Sophia Fominichna is the niece of Constantine XI Palaeologus, the last Emperor of Byzantium. From 1472 she was the wife of Ivan III Vasilyevich. Her father was Foma Palaeologus, who fled to Rome with his family in 1453, after the Turks seized Constantinople. Sophia Palaeologus lived after the death of her father in the care of the great pope. For a number of reasons, he wished to marry her to Ivan III, widowed in 1467. He agreed.

Sofia Paleologus gave birth to a son in 1479, who later became Vasily III Ivanovich. In addition, she achieved the declaration of Basil the Grand Duke, whose place was to take Dmitry, the grandson of Ivan III, who was crowned in the kingdom. Ivan III used the marriage with Sophia to strengthen Russia in the international arena.

Icon "Blessed heaven" and the image of Michael III

Sofia Paleolog, Grand Duchess of Moscow, brought several Orthodox icons. It is believed that among them was the icon "Blessed heaven", a rare image of the Mother of God. She was in the Kremlin Archangel Cathedral. However, according to another legend, the relic was transported from Constantinople to Smolensk, and when the latter captured Lithuania, this icon was blessed by the marriage of Sophia Vitovtovna, the princess, when she married Vasily I, the Moscow prince. The image that is in the cathedral today is a list from the ancient icon, made in the late 17th century by the order of Fyodor Alekseevich (pictured below). Muscovites traditionally brought lamp oil and water to this icon. It was believed that they were filled with healing properties, because the image had healing power. This icon today is one of the most revered in our country.

In the Arkhangelsk cathedral after the wedding of Ivan III there was also an image of Michael III, the Byzantine emperor, who was the ancestor of the Paleolog dynasty. Thus, it was affirmed that Moscow is the successor of the Byzantine Empire, and the sovereigns of Rus are the heirs of the Byzantine emperors.

The birth of the long-awaited successor

After Sofia Paleologue, the second wife of Ivan III, married with him in the Assumption Cathedral and became his wife, she began to think about how to gain influence and become a real queen. The paleologist understood that for this purpose it was necessary to present to the prince a gift that only she could do: to give him a son who would become heir to the throne. Unfortunately, Sophia, the first child was a daughter who died almost immediately after birth. A year later a girl was born again, who also died suddenly. Sofia Paleologue cried, prayed to God to give her an heir, distributed handfuls of alms to the poor, donated to temples. After a while, the Mother of God heard her prayers - Sofia Paleolog again became pregnant.

Her biography was finally marked by a long-awaited event. It took place on March 25, 1479 at 8 pm, as it was said in one of the Moscow chronicles. The son was born. He was called Basil of Paria. The boy was baptized by Vasian, the Archbishop of Rostov, in the Sergius Monastery.

What did Sofia bring with her?

Sophia managed to inspire something that was dear to herself, and that appreciated and understood in Moscow. She brought with her the customs and traditions of the Byzantine court, her pride in her own origins, and also her annoyance that she had to marry a tributary of the Mongol-Tatars. Sophia hardly liked the simplicity of the situation in Moscow, as well as the unceremonious relations that reigned at the time at the court. Ivan III himself was compelled to listen to reproachful speeches from obstinate boyars. However, in the capital and without it, many had a desire to change the old order that did not correspond to the position of the Moscow sovereign. And the wife of Ivan III with the Greeks brought by her, who saw both Roman and Byzantine life, could give Russian valuable guidance on what patterns and how to implement the desired changes.

The influence of Sofia

The prince's prince can not be denied the influence on the behind-the-scenes life of the court and its decorative setting. She skillfully built personal relationships, she perfectly succeeded court intrigues. However, the political Palaeologus could only respond with suggestions that echoed the vague and secret thoughts of Ivan III. Particularly clear was the idea that, by her marriage, the princess makes the Moscow rulers receivers of the Byzantine emperors with the interests of the Orthodox East, holding fast to the latter. Therefore, Sophia Palaeologus in the capital of the Russian state was appreciated mainly as a Byzantine princess, and not as a great Moscow princess. This was understood by herself. As princess Sophia enjoyed the right to receive foreign embassies in Moscow. Therefore, her marriage with Ivan was a kind of political demonstration. The whole world was told that the heiress of the Byzantine house, who had fallen shortly before that, had transferred his state powers to Moscow, which became the new Tsargrad. Here she shares these rights with her husband.

Reconstruction of the Kremlin, the overthrow of the Tatar yoke

Ivan, feeling his new position in the international arena, found the ugly and cramped former situation of the Kremlin. From Italy, after the princess, the masters were written out. They built on the site of the wooden chorus of the Faceted Chamber, the Assumption Cathedral (St. Basil's Cathedral), and a new stone palace. In the Kremlin, at that time, a strict and complex ceremonial was started at the court, which informed Moscow's life of arrogance and stiffness. Just like in his palace, Ivan III began to appear in a more solemn manner in foreign relations. Especially when the Tatar yoke without fight, as if by itself, fell from the shoulders. And it gravitated almost two centuries over the whole north-eastern Russia (from 1238 to 1480). A new language, more solemn, appears at this time in government papers, especially diplomatic ones. It is a magnificent terminology.

The role of Sophia in overthrowing the Tatar yoke

Paleologue in Moscow was not liked for the influence she exerted on the Grand Duke, and also for the changes in the life of Moscow - "great disasters" (in the words of boyar Bersen-Beklemishev). Sophia interfered not only in internal, but also in foreign affairs. She demanded that Ivan III refuse to pay tribute to the Horde khan and finally freed himself from his power. Skilful advice Paleologue, as evidenced by VO. Klyuchevsky, always met the intentions of her husband. Therefore, he refused to pay tribute. Ivan III trampled on the Khan's letter in Zamoskorechye, on the Horde court. Later, the Transfiguration Cathedral was built on this site. However, the people even then "spoke" to Paleologue. Before Ivan III came out in 1480 to a great standing on the Ugra, he sent his wife and children to Beloozero. For this, the subjects attributed to the sovereign the intention to give up power in the event that Moscow is taken by Khan Ahmat, and fled with his wife.

"Duma" and change of treatment with subordinates

Ivan III, freed from the yoke, felt himself finally sovereign sovereign. Sophia's courtly discourses began to resemble the Byzantine. The prince gave his wife a "gift": Ivan III allowed Palaeologus to assemble his own "Duma" from the members of the suite and arrange "diplomatic receptions" on their own. The princess received foreign ambassadors and politely conversed with them. This was an unprecedented innovation for Russia. The address at the court of the sovereign also changed.

Sofia Paleologus brought her husband's sovereign rights, as well as the right to the Byzantine throne, as F. Uspensky noted, a historian who studied this period. Boyars had to reckon with this. Ivan III used to love disputes and objections, but under Sofia he radically changed the treatment of his courtiers. Ivan began to hold unapproachable, easily fell into anger, often imposed disgrace, demanded special reverence for himself. All these rumors also referred to the influence of Sophia Palaeologus.

The struggle for the throne

She was also accused of violating the succession to the throne. The enemies told the prince in 1497 that Sofia Paleologue had planned to poison his grandson in order to put his son on the throne, that secretly she was preparing a poisonous potion for the sorcerers, that Vasily himself was involved in this conspiracy. Ivan III took the side of his grandson in this matter. He ordered to drown in the Moscow River a witch, arrested Vasily, and removed his wife from himself, having executed several members of the "Duma" Paleologist demonstratively. In 1498, Ivan III crowned Dmitry in the Assumption Cathedral as the heir to the throne.

However, Sophia's blood had the capacity for court intrigues. She accused Elena Voloshank of adherence to heresy and was able to achieve her fall. The Grand Duke imposed disgrace on his grandson and daughter-in-law and named Basil in 1500 as the legitimate heir to the throne.

Sophia Palaeologus: role in history

The marriage of Sophia Paleologus and Ivan III undoubtedly strengthened the Moscow state. He promoted his transformation into the Third Rome. Sofia Paleolog has lived more than 30 years in Russia, having given birth to 12 children to her husband. However, she never managed to understand the country of others, her laws and traditions. Even in the official chronicles there are records condemning her behavior in some situations, difficult for the country.

Sofia attracted architects and other cultural figures, as well as doctors, to the Russian capital. The creations of the Italian architects made Moscow not inferior to the majesty and beauty of the capitals of Europe. This contributed to strengthening the prestige of the Moscow sovereign, underscored the continuity of the Russian capital to the Second Rome.

Death of Sofia

Sophia died in Moscow on August 7, 1503. She was buried in the Ascension Maiden Monastery of the Moscow Kremlin. In December 1994, in connection with the transfer of the remains of royal and princely wives to the Archangel Cathedral, SA Nikitin restored the sculptural portrait of the surviving skull of Sophia (pictured above). Now we can at least approximately imagine what Sophia Palaeologus looked like. Interesting facts and biographical information about it are numerous. We have tried to select the most important, making this article.

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