Filaret Romanov, Patriarch

views updated


(c. 15501633), Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus (16191633).

Born Fedor Nikitich Romanov, the future Patriarch Filaret came from an old boyar clan, known variously from the fourteenth century as the Koshkins, the Zakharins, the Iurevs, and finally as the Romanovs. The clan reached the height of power and privilege after 1547, when Tsar Ivan IV ("the Terrible") married Anastasia Iureva, Fedor Nikitich's aunt (Fedor was probably born after the wedding). During the reign of Ivan the Terrible's son and heir, Tsar Fedor Ivanovich (15841598), Fedor Nikitich Romanov succeeded his father, Nikita Romanovich Iurev, on a regency council that ruled along with Tsar Fedor. Fedor Nikitich had been a boyar since 1587. He was regional governor (namestnik ) of Nizhnii Novgorod (1586) and later of Pskov (1590) and served in numerous ceremonial functions at court.

On the death of Tsar Fedor in 1598, Fedor Nikitich continued to hold important posts and retained his seniority among the boyars under the new tsar, Boris Godunov. In 1601, however, as part of a general attack by Boris on real and potential rivals to his power, Fedor was forcibly tonsured (made a monk) and exiled to the remote Antoniev-Siisky Monastery, near Kholmogory. His wife, Ksenia Ivanovna Shestova (whom he married around 1585), was similarly forced to take the monastic habit in 1601. She took the religious name Marfa and was sent in exile to the remote Tolvuisky Hermitage. Other Romanov relatives Fedor's brothers and sisters and their spouses similarly fell into disgrace under Boris Godunov, with only one of Fedor's brothers (Ivan) surviving his confinement.

That Fedor should be considered a rival to Boris was natural enough. He was the last tsar's first cousin, whereas Boris was merely a brother-in-law. There was also the more or less general belief, known even to foreign travelers in Russia at the time, that just before his death, Tsar Fedor had bequeathed the throne to his cousin Fedor, and that Boris Godunov had been elected to the throne only after the Romanovs had first refused it. While there is enough contemporary evidence to suggest that the Romanovs were genuinely thought of as candidates for the throne in 1598, many of the stories about Tsar Fedor's nomination of one of the Romanovs as his heir date from only after the Romanov ascension to the throne (in 1613) and therefore must be regarded with some suspicion.

Whatever the case, Fedor Nikitich, having taken the monastic name of Filaret, received some relief from his circumstances in 1605, when Boris Godunov died and was replaced by the First False Dmitry, who freed him (and his former wife, the nun Marfa) from his confinement and elevated him to the rank of Metropolitan of Rostov. After the fall of the First False Dmitry, Filaret took charge of the translation of the relics of Tsarevich Dmitry from Uglich to Moscow's Archangel Cathedral in the Kremlin. This was where Dmitry was interred and, shortly thereafter, where he was glorified as a saint. With the election of (St.) Germogen as patriarch, Filaret was sent back to Rostov; but when the Second False Dmitry captured the city in 1608, Filaret soon became one of his supporters in a struggle with Tsar Vasily Shuisky (r. 16061610), establishing himself in Dmitry's camp at Tushino, near Moscow. It was the Second False Dmitry, in fact, who elevated Filaret to be patriarch after (St.) Germogen was murdered by the Poles, who had intervened in Russian internal affairs.

Filaret briefly fell into Polish hands when Dmitry was defeated and put to flight, but he quickly made his way back to Moscow under the protection of Tsar Vasily Shuisky. However, military defeats brought Shuisky's regime down in 1610, and Shuisky was forcibly tonsured a monk. Political power rested then in a council of seven boyars who dispatched Filaret to Poland to invite Prince Wladislaw, son of Poland's King Sigismund III, to be tsar in Muscovy. During these negotiations, Filaret insisted that the young prince convert to Orthodoxy and to do so by rebaptism, a stipulation to which the Polish king was unwilling to concede. With the breakdown of these talks, Filaret was placed under house arrest, where he remained until after the Treaty of Deulino in 1618, which finally provided an end to Polish interests in the Russian throne.

In June 1619, Filaret returned to a Moscow and to a Russia ruled now by his son, Mikhail, who had been elected tsar by the Assembly of the Land (Zemsky Sobor ) in February 1613. Within days, Filaret was consecrated patriarch and within days after that, he was proclaimed "Great Sovereign"a title usually reserved for the rulersignaling Filaret's unique position at the court. Filaret took the reins of government in his own hands, directing church and foreign policy with evidently little input from his son. In church matters, Filaret continued his previous position with regard to the non-Orthodox, insisting on the rebaptism of all converts and, in general, further hardening confessional lines with Muscovy's non-Orthodox neighbors and minorities. He also advocated for the Polish war that started in 1632, which turned against Muscovy with the failure of the siege of Smolensk and the routing of the Russian army. Filaret died on October 1, 1633, amid the unfolding disasters of that war.

See also: assembly of the land; cathedral of the archangel; dmitry, false; godunov, boris fyodorovich; ivan iv; kremlin; metropolitan; romanov dynasty; romanov, mikhail fyodorovich; russian orthodox church; shuisky, vasily ivanovich; time of troubles


Dunning, Chester S.L. (2001). Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Keep, J.L.H. (1960). "The Regime of Filaret, 16191633." The Slavonic and Easter European Review 38:334360.

Klyuchevsky, Vasily Osipovich. (1970). The Rise of the Romanovs tr. Liliana Archibald. London: Macmillan St. Martin's.

Platonov, Sergei Fyodorovich (1985). The Time of Troubles, tr. John T. Alexander. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.

Russell E. Martin