Russian Pretenders of the Early 17th Century

The career of the first Russian pretender, the 'False Dimitry' who briefly occupied the throne in 1605-06, is familiar to music-lovers from Mussorgsky's opera Boris Godunov . Rather less well-known, however, is the fact that this Dimitry was only the first of a series of pretenders who appeared in Russia in the period of civil war and foreign intervention from 1603-13 that is known as 'The Time of Troubles'.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries pretenders were a common phenomenon in Russia. One historian has called pretence a 'chronic disease' of Russia, but it was not an exclusively Russian malaise. Probable sixteenth-century models for the first Russian pretenders were a series of pretenders to the Moldavian throne and the false Don Sebastians in Portugal. The English pretenders Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel may also have served as precedents.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.