Sofia Alekseevna

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sof’ia Alekseevna


Born Sept. 17 (27), 1657, in Moscow; died there July 3 (14), 1704. Ruler of Russia from 1682 to 1689. Daughter of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich and M. I. Miloslavskaia.

Sofia Alekseevna was a well-educated woman of great intelligence, energy, and ambition. After the death of Tsar Fedor Alekseevich, her brother, on Apr. 27, 1682, she opposed the elevation of Peter I (then a boy of ten) to the throne and took an active part in the struggle of court factions. The Miloslavskii faction seized power by taking advantage of the Moscow Uprising of 1682. Ivan V Alekseevich was proclaimed “first” tsar, and on May 29, Sofia became regent for both tsars. Supported by V. V. Golitsyn, F. L. Shaklovityi, and others, she was the de facto head of the government.

In the autumn of 1682, Sofia’s government, centered in the St. Sergius Trinity Monastery, suppressed the Moscow Uprising with the help of the dvorianstvo (nobility). During her reign, minor concessions were made to the class of merchants and artisans and less effort was made to capture peasants who had fled from their estates, which displeased the dvorianstvo. Sofia’s most significant achievements in foreign policy were the conclusion of the Eternal Peace of 1686 with Poland and the Nerchinsk Treaty of 1689 with China and Russia’s entry into war against Turkey and the Crimean Khanate.

In 1689 the faction of boyars and nobles that supported Peter I broke with Sofia and was victorious in its bid for power. Sofia was incarcerated in the Novodevichii Convent. During the uprising of the streltsy (semiprofessional musketeers) in 1698, her supporters planned to restore her to power. After the suppression of the uprising, Sofia was forced to take vows under the name Susanna. She spent the rest of her life in the Novodevichii Convent.


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