Theodore III of Russia - Encyclopedia

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THEODORE (1661-1682), tsar of Russia, was the eldest surviving son of Tsar Alexius and Maria Milosla y skaya. In. 1676 he succeeded his father on the throne. He was endowed ' with a fine intellect and a noble disposition; he had received' an excellent education at the hands of Simeon Polotsky, the most learned Slavonic monk of the day, knew Polish, and even. possessed the unusual accomplishment of Latin; but, horribly disfigured and half paralyzed by a mysterious disease, supposed to be scurvy, he had been a hopeless invalid from the day of his birth. In 1679 he married his first cousin Agatha and assumed the sceptre. His native energy, though crippled, was not crushed by his terrible disabilities; and he soon showed that he was as thorough and devoted a reformer as a man incompetent to lead armies and obliged to issue his orders from his litter, or his bed-chamber, could possibly be. The atmosphere of the court ceased to be oppressive; the light of a new liberalism shone in the highest places; and the severity of the penal laws was considerably mitigated. He founded the academy of sciences in the Zaikonospassy monastery, where everything not expressly forbidden by the orthodox church,. including Slavonic, Greek, Latin and Polish, was to be taught by competent professors. The chief difference between the.

Theodorean and the later Petrine reforms was that while the former were primarily, though not exclusively, for the benefit of the church, the latter were primarily for the benefit of the state. The most notable reform of Theodore III., however, was the abolition, at the suggestion of Vasily Golitsuin, of Myestnechestvo, or "place priority," which had paralyzed the whole civil and military administration of Muscovy for generations (see Golitsuin). Henceforth all appointments to the civil and military services were to be determined by merit and the will of the sovereign. Theodore's consort, Agatha, shared his progressive views. She was the first to advocate beardshearing. On her death (4th of July 1681) Theodore married Martha Apraksina. He died on the 27th of April 1682, without issue.

See M. P. Pogodin, The First Seventeen Years of the Life of Peter Me Great (Rus.) (Moscow, 1875). (R. N. B.)

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