Fedoror III of Russia (1676 - 1682)



Feodor (Theodore) III Alexeevich of Russia (June 9, 1661 - May 7, 1682) was theTsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682.

Feodor was born in Moscow, the eldest surviving son of Tsar Alexis and Maria Miloslavskaya. In 1676, at the age of fifteen, 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. He spent most of the time with young nobles, Yazykov and Likhachov, who would later introduce the Russian court to Polish ceremonies, dress, and language.

On July 28, 1680 the young ruler married an Ukrainian noblewoman Agaphia Simeonovna Grushevskaya, daughter of Simeon Feodorovich Grushevsky. 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 Zaikonospassky monastery, where everything not expressly forbidden by the Orthodox church, including Slavonic, Greek, Latin and Polish, was to be taught by competent professors.

The most notable reform of Feodor III, however, was the abolition, at the suggestion of Vasily Galitzine, the system of mestnichestvo, or "place priority," which had paralyzed the whole civil and military administration of Muscovy for generations. Henceforth all appointments to the civil and military services were to be determined by merit and the will of the sovereign, while pedigree (nobility) books were to be destroyed. Feodor's first consort, Agaphia Simeonovna Grushevsky shared his progressive views. She was the first to advocate beard-shaving. On 21 July 1681, the Tsarina had borne the son, Tsarevich Ilya Fyodorovich, the expected heir to the throne. Agaphia died at consecuence of the childbirth three days later, on 24 July, and six days later, on 30 July, the nine-days-old Tsarevich also died.

Seven months later, on 24 February 1682 Feodor married secondly with Marfa Matveievna Apraksina (1667-1716), daughter of Matvei Vasilievich Apraksin. Feodor died three months after his new wedding, on May 7, without surviving issue. The news of his death sparked the Moscow Uprising of 1682.

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