Shuisky Basil IV - Encyclopedia


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BASIL. IV., SHUISKY (d. 1612), tsar of Muscovy, was during the reigns of Theodore I. and Boris Godunov, one of the leading boyars of Muscovy. It was he who, in obedience to the secret orders of Tsar Boris, went to Uglich to inquire into the cause of the death of Demetrius, the infant son of Ivan the Terrible, who had been murdered there by the agents of Boris. Shuisky obsequiously reported that it was a case of suicide; yet, on the death of Boris and the accession of his son Theodore II., the false boyar, in order to gain favour with the first false Demetrius, went back upon his own words and recognized the pretender as the real Demetrius, thus bringing about the assassination of the young Theodore. Shuisky then plotted against the false Demetrius and procured his death (May 1606) also by publicly confessing that the real Demetrius had been indeed slain and that the reigning tsar was an impostor. This was the viler in him as the pseudo-Demetrius had already forgiven him one conspiracy. Shuisky's adherents thereupon proclaimed him tsar (19th of May 1606). He reigned till the 10th of July 1610, but was never generally recognized. Even in Moscow itself he had little or no authority, and was only not deposed by the dominant boyars because they had none to put in his place. Only the popularity of his heroic cousin, Prince Michael Skopin-Shuisky, who led his armies and fought his battles for him, and soldiers from Sweden, whose assistance he purchased by a disgraceful cession of Russian territory, kept him for a time on his unstable throne. In 1610 he was deposed, made a monk, and finally carried off as a trophy by the Polish grand hetman, Stanislaus Zolkiewski. He died at Warsaw in 1612.

See D. I. Ilovaisky, The Troubled Period of the Muscovite Realm (Russ.), (Moscow, 1894); S. I. Platonov, Sketches of the Great Anarchy in the Realm of Moscow (Petersburg, 1899); D. V. Tsvyeltev, Tsar Vasily Shuisky (Russ.), (Warsaw, 1901-1903); R. Nisbet Bain, Slavonic Europe, ch. viii. (Cambridge, 1907). (R. N. B.)

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