Born May 31, 1557, in Moscow; died there Jan. 7 (17), 1598. Russian tsar from Mar. 19, 1584; last of the Riurikovichi. Second surviving son of Ivan IV Vasil’evich and Anastasiia Romanovna Zakhar’ina-Iur’eva.
An ineffectual ruler, Fedor Ivanovich devoted great attention to such matters as the upkeep and decoration of the chambers at court. His claim to the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was advanced twice, in 1573–74 and in 1587. Fedor died leaving no heirs.
The first years of Fedor’s reign were marked by a fierce palace struggle, which resulted in the dissolution of the five-member Regents’ Council—composed of Prince F. I. Mstislavskii, Prince I. P. Shuiskii, N. R. Iur’ev-Romanov, B. F. Godunov, and B. Ia. Bel’skii—which had been established by Ivan IV shortly before his death to rule Russia. Fedor’s younger brother, Dmitrii, the son of Ivan and Mariia Nagaia, was sent away to Uglich on May 24, 1584. In 1587, Fedor’s brother-in-law, Boris Godunov, became the de facto ruler.
With respect to internal affairs, Fedor’s reign was marked by a gradual improvement in the country’s economy and by a recovery from the crisis of the 1570’s and 1580’s and the Livonian War of 1558–83, in which Russia suffered defeat. Serfdom was strengthened by the ukases of 1586, 1592–93, and 1597, and state taxes on the urban taxpaying population were increased, resulting in the exacerbation of class conflicts.
In foreign relations, Russia’s international position improved somewhat during Fedor’s reign. As a result of the Russo-Swedish war of 1590–93, the cities and regions of Novgorod Land that had been seized by Sweden during the Livonian War were returned to Russia under the terms of the Treaty of Teusina (1595). Western Siberia was finally incorporated into Russia, the southern border regions along the Volga were consolidated, and Russia’s role in Transcaucasia and the Northern Caucasus increased. Russian expansion, however, conflicted with the interests of Poland, Sweden, the Crimean Khanate, and Turkey.
Thus, Fedor’s reign set the stage for the emergence of complex class and international conflicts, leading eventually to the Polish and Swedish intervention in Russia and to the Peasant War of the early 17th century.
V. D. NAZAROV