The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a princely family of the 15th-18th centuries. The legendary version of the family’s origin names as its progenitor one of the sons of Mamai, who ruled the town of Glinskii (hence, the family name) and the neighboring towns of Poltava and Glinnitsa, which were located along the Dnieper River. The first Glinskii princes, Ivan and Boris, were mentioned in a deed of 1437.

Mikhail L’vovich Glinskii. (the Portly) Died Sept. 15 (24), 1534. A statesman. Glinskii was educated at the court of the German emperor Maximillian, then served Albrecht the Saxon. While he was in Italy, he was converted to Catholicism. In the 1590’s he returned to Lithuania, where he had great influence on Grand Duke Alexander Kazimirovich. Glinskii tried to form a separate state from Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian lands that were a part of Lithuania, and this upset the major feudal lords of Lithuania. The new king, Sigismund, deprived him of all responsibilities other than his duties as governor-general of Utensk. Mikhail and his brothers Ivan the Mamai (died before 1522) and Vasilii the Dark or the Blind (died before 1522) started a revolt against the king. Having failed, they escaped to Moscow in 1508 and entered the service of Grand Prince Vasilii III Ivanovich, who had married Mikhail’s niece—Elena Glinskaia. Mikhail L’vovich Glinskii enjoyed great influence in the last years of Vasilii III’s life and at the beginning of Elena’s regency. In 1534 he organized a conspiracy and attacked Elena’s favorite, Prince Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolenskii. He was captured in August 1534 and died in prison.

Elena Vasil’evna Glinskaia. Died Apr. 4 (13), 1538, in Moscow. Glinskaia was the daughter of Prince Vasilii L’vovich and Princess Anna Glinskaia. She was the second wife of Grand Prince Vasilii III Ivanovich, and she was grand princess after 1526. From 1533 to 1538 she was regent of the Russian state during the minority of her son, Grand Duke Ivan IV. During Elena’s rule her favorite, Prince I. F. Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolenskii, and Metropolitan Daniil played an important role in state affairs. Her regency is noted for its successful struggle against the separatism of the appanage princes and boyars. Elena’s government continued to struggle against the growth of monastic landowning. A monetary reform that introduced a uniform monetary system into the state was completed in 1535. At the same time, towns were fortified, especially along the western borders. In foreign affairs, as a result of a series of victories, Elena Glinskaia’s government achieved a reconciliation with Lithuania in 1536, with the neutralization of Sweden. Elena was supposedly poisoned.

Mikhail Vasil’evich Glinskii. Died 1559. A statesman. He was the son of Vasilii L’vovich and the uncle of Ivan IV, and he was an active participant in the coronation of Ivan IV as tsar in 1547. During the Moscow Uprising of 1547, Mikhail and his mother managed to escape safely to Rzhev. From 1552 to 1555 he was a voevoda (military commander) along the Kama River and in Kazan. He suppressed the uprising of the “meadow Cheremis” (the Mari), and in 1556 he took part in the Kolomna campaign against the Crimean Tatars and in the Livonian campaign. From 1556 to 1557 he was governor-general of Novgorod and achieved a reconciliation with Sweden.

The Glinskii family died out in Russia at the beginning of the 17th century. Another branch of the Glinskii princes existed in Poland. According to the genealogies, this was the origin of the gentry family that lost the princely title in the late 17th and 18th centuries.


Tikhomirov, M. N. Zapiski o regentstve Eleny Glinskoi i boiarskom pravlenii 1533-1547. In the collection Istoricheskie zapiski, vol. 46. [Moscow] 1954.
Smirnov, I. I. Ocherki politicheskoi istorii Russkogo gosudarstva 30-kh-50-kh gg. XVI v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Zimin, A. A. Reformy Ivana Groznogo. Moscow, 1960.
Kashtanov, S. M. Sotsial’no-politicheskaia istoriia Rossii kontsa XV-pervoi poloviny XVI v. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.