Romanova, Anastasia

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(d. 1560), first wife of Russia's first official tsar, Ivan IV, and dynastic link between the Rurikid and the Romanov dynasties.

Anastasia Romanova, daughter of a lesser boyar, Roman Yuriev-Zakharin-Koshkin, and his wife, Yuliania Fyodorovna, became Ivan IV's bride after an officially proclaimed bride-show. After her wedding in November 1547, Romanova had difficulty producing royal offspring. Her three daughters died in infancy, and her eldest son, Dmitry Ivanovich, died as a baby in a mysterious accident during a pilgrimage by his parents in 1553. Her second son, Ivan Ivanovich (born in 1554), suffered an untimely end in 1581 at the hands of his own father. The incident caused the transfer of power after Ivan IV's death to Romanova's last son, the sickly Fyodor Ivanovich (15571598), whose childlessness set the stage for the Time of Troubles and the emergence of the Romanov dynasty. After a prolonged illness, Romanova passed away in August 1560 and was buried in the Monastery of the Ascension in the Kremlin, much mourned by the common people of Moscow.

Scholars generally emphasize Romanova's positive influence on Ivan IV's disposition, her pious and charitable nature, and her dynastic significance as the great-aunt of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov. This view, however, is largely based on later sources and thus reflects more the tsarina's image than her actual person. Recent research on Romanova's pilgrimages to holy sites and embroideries from her workshop suggests that Romanova actively shaped her role as royal mother by promoting the cults of Russian saints who were credited with the ability to promote royal fertility and to protect royal children from harm.

See also: ivan iv; romanov dynasty; rurikid dynasty


Kaiser, Daniel. (1987). "Symbol and Ritual in the Marriages of Ivan IV." Russian History 14 (14):247262.

Thyrêt, Isolde. (2001). Between God and Tsar: Religious Symbolism and the Royal Women of Muscovite Russia. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.

Isolde ThyrÊt