Dmitri Ivanovich (Tsarevich)

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Dmitri's portrayal in Tsarsky Tituljarnik , 1672

Tsarevich Demetrius , Tsarevich Dmitri or Dmitry Ivanovich (in German occasionally each also Dimitri , also known as Dmitri of Uglich and Dmitri of Moscow , Russian Дмитрий Иванович , Дмитрий Углицкий , Дмитрий Московский * 19th October 1582 in Moscow , † likely on May 15 1591 in Uglich ) was the last Rurikid Russian tsarevich , son of Ivan IV the Terrible and his seventh (or eighth) wife Maria Feodorovna Nagaya .


After the death of Ivan the Terrible, Dmitri's older half-brother Fyodor I came to the throne. However, since he was unable to govern due to innate mental weaknesses , the country was actually led by boyar Boris Godunov , who after Fjodor's death also claimed the throne as his brother-in-law. In 1584 Dmitri and his mother were exiled to Uglich in Northern Russia. There he died of a mysterious stab wound. The town of Uglich built Demetrios' Church on the site in 1692.


What actually happened to Dmitri has been controversial since then. Later historians put forward two versions:

  • Dmitri was killed on the orders of Boris Godunov . This was the most believed version until the 19th century. However, Dmitri was the son of Ivan the Terrible from his seventh marriage, while the Russian Orthodox Church only allows three marriages. Dmitri's claims to the throne were by no means watertight.
  • Dmitri stabbed his throat during an epileptic fit. This is represented by many historians of the 20th century and was also the result of the commission of inquiry at the time. Its head, however, Vasily Shuisky , was a proven political opponent of Boris Godunov, and it is quite possible that he was under pressure to deliver precisely this result. He also later revoked it and claimed the murder version - albeit under dubious political circumstances. Accidental self-harm to the throat during an epileptic seizure is questionable; however (as the investigative commission suspected at the time) he could have held the knife by the cutting edge during a throwing game.
  • The third possibility - Dmitri escaped - was thought to be conceivable only by a small minority of historians. This version was, however, the politically most powerful: in the subsequent "Time of Troubles" at least three impostors appeared who claimed to be the escaped Dmitri. The first brought it briefly to the tsar with Polish help - and recognized by Vasily Shuiski. The second was able to bring a large part of the country under his control with his troops (when Vasily Shuisky had made himself tsar) and could only be defeated with the help of Swedish troops.

Dmitri's bones were brought to Moscow in 1606. A cult soon developed around her and he was recognized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church .

Artistic arrangements

The story of Tsarevich is a key element in the opera Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky , which in turn is based on a drama by Alexander Pushkin . It was also processed by Friedrich Schiller in his unfinished drama Demetrius .

Web links

Commons : Dmitri Ivanovich (Tsarevich)  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files