The Six Demetriuses of Russia
History hardly furnishes a more extraordinary event, than that of the pretender Demetrius, who raised such disturbances in Russia, after the death of John Basilides. In 1584 this czar left two sons; one named Fedor, or Theodore, the other Demetri, or Demetrius. Fedor succeeded his father; and Demetrius was confined to a village called Uglis, with the czarina his mother. As yet the rude manners of that court had not, like the Turkish sultans and the ancient Greek emperors, adopted the policy of sacrificing the princes of the blood to the security of the throne. A prime minister, named Boris Gudenou, whose sister had been married to the czar Fedor, peranaded his master, that he would never reign quietly uness he imitated the Turks, and assassinated his brother. An officer was therefore sent to the village, where young Demetrius was brought up, with orders to kill him. The officer, at his return, said he had executed hit commission, and demanded the reward that had been promised him. Ail the reward Boris gave the murderer was to kill him .also, in order to suppress every proof of the guilt It is said that Boris poisoned the czar Fedor some time after; and, though he was suspected of the crime, yet this did not prevent his ascending the throne.
There appeared at that time (1597) in Lithuania a young man who pretended to be prince Demetrius, that had escaped out of the hands of the assassin. Several, who had seen him at his mother's, knew him again by particular marks. He bore a perfect resemblance to the prince; he shewed the golden cross, enriched with precious stones, that had been tied about Demetrius's neck. The palatine[НВ1] of Sandomir immediately acknowledged him for the son of John Basilides, and for the lawful czar. The diet of Poland made a solemn inquiry into the proof of his royal extraction, and, finding theta past all doubt, he lent him an army to drive out the usurper Boris, and to recover the throne of his ancestors.
In the meanwhile Demetrius was treated, in Russia as an impostor, and even as a magician. The Russians could not believe that a Demetrius, who was supported by the Poles, a catholic nation, and who had two Jesuits-for his council, could be their real king. 80 little did the boyars question his being an impostor, that, upon the decease of the czar Boris, they made no difficulty to place his son, then only fifteen years of age, on the throne.
During these transactions (1605), Demetrius was upon his march into Russia with a Polish army. -They who were dissatisfied with the Muscovite government, declared in his favour. A general of that nation, advancing within sight of Demetrius's army, cried out, u he is the only lawful heir of the empire," and immediately went over to him with the troops under his command. The revolution was sudden and complete, and Demetrius ceased to be a magician. The inhabitants of Moscow ran to the palace, and dragged the young Boris and his mother to prison. Demetrius was proclaimed czar without opposition. It was given out that young Boris and his mother had killed themselves in prison; but it is more likely that Demetrius put them to death.
The widow of John Basilides, mother of the real or pretended Demetrius, had been banished long since to the north of Russia; the new czar sent a kind of coach, as magnificent as any that could be had at that time, to bring her to Moscow. He went himself part of the way to meet her; they embraced each other with transports and tears of joy in the presence of a prodigious multitude, so that nobody doubted but Demetrius was the lawful emperor. He married the daughter of the palatine of Sondomir, his first protector, and this was what ruined him. The people were shocked to see a catholic empress, a court composed of foreigners, and, above all, a church built for the Jesuits; so that Demetrius was no longer looked upon as a Russian.
In the midst of the entertainments at the marriage of the czar, a boyar, whose name was Zuski, put himself at the head of a number of conspirators, who, entering the palace, with the sword in one hand, and a cross in the other, cut the Polish guard in pieces. Demetrius was loaded with chains. The conspirators confronted him with the czarina, widow of John Basilides, who had so solemnly acknowledged him for her son. The clergy obliged her to declare upon oath the real truth in regard to Demetrius. Whether it was that the apprehension of death forced this princess to take a false oath, and to get the better of nature, or whether she did it out of regard to the real truth, she confessed, with tears in her eyes, that, the czar was not her son, that the real Demetrius had been murdered in his infancy, that she had only followed the example of the whole nation in acknowledging the new czar, and to be revenged for the blood of her son upon a family of assassins. Demetrius was now said to be a low fellow, named Grisba Utropoya, who had been for some time a monk in a Russian convent Before, they used to reproach him with not. following the Greek religion, and with differing entirely from the customs and manners of Russia; but now, they called him a Russian peasant, and a Greek monk. Let him be what he would, Zuski[НВ2] , the chief of the conspirators, killed him with his own hand, and succeeded to the empire (1606).
This new czar, having suddenly mounted the throne, sent back the few Poles that had escaped the massacre, to their own country. As he had no other right to the crown, than that of having assassinated Demetrius, the rest of the boyars, dissatisfied with being subject to a person so lately their equal, soon pretended that the deceased czar was not an impostor,' but the real Demetrius, and that the murderer was unworthy of the throne. The name of Demetrius became dear to the Russians. The chancellor of the late czar declared, that he was not dead, but would quickly recover of his wounds, and appear again at the head of his loyal subjects.
This chancellor made a progress through Muscovy, with a young man in a litter, whom he called Demetrius, and treated as his sovereign. At the very sound of Demetrius's name the people rose up; they fought some battles in behalf of his cause, without so much as seeing him but the chancellor's party having been defeated, this second Demetrius soon disappeared. However, the people were so mad after the name, that a third Demetrius presented himself in Poland. This man was more fortunate than the rest; being, supported by Sigismond king of Poland, he laid siege to Moscow, where Zuski resided. The tyrant was shut up in this capital, but he had still in his power the widow of the first Demetrius, and the palatine of Sandomir, that widow's father. The third Demetrius demanded the princess as his wife. Zuski delivered up both the father and the daughter, hoping perhaps to soften the king of Poland, or flattering himself that the palatine's daughter would not acknowledge the impostor. But this impostor was victorious, the widow of the first declared this third Demetrius to be her real husband: so as the first of that name found out his mother, the third as easily found out his wife. The palatine swore that this was his son-in-law; and the people made no longer any doubt of it. The boyars, divided betwixt the usurper Zuski and the impostor, would acknowledge neither. They deposed Zuski, and shut him up in a convent. This was still a superstition of the Russians, as it had been of the ancient Greek church, that a prince who had been once a monk, was incapable of ever reigning again: and this same opinion had been insensibly introduced into the Latin church. Zuski appeared no more; and Demetrius was assassinated at a public entertainment by a party of Tartars.
The boyars then offered their crown to prince Ladislaus, son of Sigismond, king of Poland. Ladislaus was preparing to take possession, when behold a fourth Demetrius started up, and entered the lists with him. This man gave out, that God had constantly preserved him, though he had been in all appearance assassinated at Uglis by the tyrant Boris, at Moscow, by the usurper Zuski, and afterwards by the Tartars. He found partisans that believed in those three miracles. The town of Pleskou acknowledged him as czar; here he fixed his residence a few years; during which time the Russians repenting they had called in the Poles, drove them back again; and Sigismond renounced all hopes of seeing his son Ladislaus seated on the throne of Russia. In the midst of these disturbances, the son of the patriarch Fedor Romanow was made czar. This patriarch was related by the females to the czar John Basilides. His son, Michael Federowitz, that is, son of Fedor, was chosen to this dignity at the age of seventeen, by his father’s influence. All Russia acknowledged this Federowitz, and the city of Pleskou delivered up the fourth Demetrius, who was hanged.
There remained still a fifth, the son of the first, who had been really czar, and married the daughter of the palatine of Sandomir. His mother removed him from Moscow, when she went to meet the third Demetrius, and pretended to acknowledge him for her real husband. She retired afterwards (1613) among the Cossacks along with this child, who was looked upon, and might be really the grandson of John Basilides; but as soon as Michael Federowitz was seated on the throne, he obliged the Cossacks to deliver up the mother and the child, who were both drowned.
One would not have expected a sixth Demetrius. Yet, during the reign of Michael Federowitz in Russia, and of Ladislaus in Poland, another pretender of this name appeared in the czar's dominions. As some young people were bathing one day with a Cossack of their own age, they took notice of Russian characters on his back, which were pricked with a needle, and they found them to be, “Demetrius son of the czar Demetrius”. He was supposed to be the same son of the first Demetrius, by the palatine of Sandomir's daughter, whom the czar Feclerowitz had ordered to be drowned. God had operated a miracle to save him; he was treated as the czar's son at the court of Ladislaus; and they intended to make use of him in order to excite fresh disturbances in Russia. The death of his protector Ladislaus blasted all his hopes. He retired first to Sweden, and from thence to Holstein; but, unfortunately for this adventurer, the duke of Holstein having sent an embassy into Russia, in order to open a communication for a silk trade with Persia, and the ambassador having had no other success but to contract debts [НВ3] at Moscow, the duke of Holstein discharged the debts [НВ4] by delivering up this last Demetrius, who was quartered alive.—Spirit of Nations.
[НВ2]Васи́лий Иванович Шу́йский — последний из Рюриковичей на русском престоле, русский царь c 1606 по 1610 годы. Представитель княжеского рода Шуйских. После низложения жил в плену у поляков.
[НВ3]получать кредит, брать в долг
[НВ4]погасить долг, выплатить долг