Table of contents:
- Chronicle mentions of poisons and the experience of nomads
- Finds in Moscow and the struggle for power
- Poisonous chicken and Moscow enemy agents
- "Notable" female poisoning - the story of the wife of Ivan III
The history of intentional poisoning of competitors goes back centuries. Few will be surprised at the stories of poisons that have become a reliable tool in the hands of an insidious criminal. There are many similar episodes in historical writings about the Middle Ages. Poison served as a particularly popular solution to dynastic disputes in France and Italy. But the Russians also did not lag behind the enlightened Europe. The chronicles are full of similar stories according to the testimony of foreigners visiting Muscovy.
Chronicle mentions of poisons and the experience of nomads
The fact that the use of poisons was a common part of the life of medieval society is evidenced by the statutory documents of that period. In legal practice, there was severe punishment for both poisoners and inventors of poisonous mixtures. And these "articles" were, as a rule, mortal. According to the "Charter" of the times of Yaroslav the Wise (11th century), a spouse who tried to poison her own husband was separated from him and imposed a large fine on the criminal. The criminal law of the Germans of the Middle Ages was prescribed to wheel male poisoners, and to torture women, and then drown them in the river. Under the Hungarian ruler of the late 13th century, Ladislav, a large fine was imposed for the production of poisons at the first arrest. If the criminal had no money, he was simply burned alive. The punishments, apparently, were terrible, but even they rarely stopped people who decided on dark deeds.
From the middle of the XIII century, life in Russia proceeded in close connection with the Mongol nomadic conquerors of Genghis Khan. Very often the visits of the Russian princes to the Horde khans ended tragically. Thus, in 1246, the parent of Alexander Nevsky, Prince Yaroslav, died. The Italian travel historian Giovanni Plano Carpini wrote about this. He says that Yaroslav was invited to dinner with the khan's mother, after which he fell sharply ill and died a week later. The same fate, according to Karpini, awaited Nevsky himself. After visiting the Horde in 1263, Prince Alexander felt unwell and died on the way home. Apparently, the power of silent poisons was well known to the Asian nomads, who in this way habitually eliminated opponents and rivals. In the "Mongolian everyday collection", dedicated to the life of Genghis Khan, it is told how his father Yesugei-Baatur died from poisoning, who sat down at the same table with the Tatars and lived only a few days after that.
Finds in Moscow and the struggle for power
The fact that poisons occupied a separate niche of diplomatic life in Russian society was evidenced by the indicative find on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin in 1843 at the construction site of the Tsar's glaciers. Then, shallow underground, they found a copper jug from the reign of Dmitry Donskoy with parchment letters and an earthen vessel with mercury. Mercury and arsenic were considered the most common poisons of the Middle Ages. A fierce struggle for power was also present among Donskoy's grandchildren.
On the one hand, the Galician and Zvenigorod princes Vasily Kosoy, Dmitry Shemyaka and Dmitry Krasny claimed the throne, and on the other, Grand Duke Vasily II. The chronicles recorded in detail the history of the death of Red. Dmitry Yuryevich's ailment was never identified by doctors, because the symptoms could not be attributed to any known disease. After a sharp deterioration in his condition, the prince fell into unconsciousness, and a few days later he died. Such a rapid development of the disease is typical of poisoning, and the fate of his brother pushed eyewitnesses to suspicion.
Poisonous chicken and Moscow enemy agents
In 1453, after his brother, the Moscow prince Dmitry Shemyaka was also poisoned. The story of his death is special in that all the participants in this conspiracy are known. The reason for this reprisal was the internecine showdown with Vasily II, whom Shemyaka once removed from power and sent into exile. Having regained his influence, Vasily the Dark harshly took revenge on the rebel who hid after the defeat in Veliky Novgorod. In the official chronicles of that period, they preferred not to analyze the sudden death of Shemyaka, confining themselves to naked fact.
However, in addition to the official capital "weather" codes, there were other sources of information popular in the opposition to the central government environment. These included the Novgorod Chronicle, which indicated that in 1453 Shemyaka was poisoned. A detailed description of this story was contained in other chronicles. On the basis of Lvov and Yermolinskaya, it is easy to trace the entire chain of events. Through the agents of Vasily the Dark who entered the house of Shemyaka, the prince's cook was bribed, who fed the owner with deadly poisonous meat. The prince's poisoning is confirmed by modern studies of his partially mummified body. Chemists who studied his liver and kidneys found that Shemyaka died from consuming a large dose of arsenic, which could explain the process of mummification.
"Notable" female poisoning - the story of the wife of Ivan III
The fate of high-ranking women did not so often attract chroniclers. But one mysterious death was mentioned in detail in several sources. We are talking about the first wife of Grand Duke Ivan III Maria Borisovna. Eyewitnesses recorded that the princess passed away after using a strong poison. Distinguished by a tough and distrustful disposition, Ivan III Vasilyevich gave the order to start an investigation. It turned out that the witch doctor and the wife of the court clerk were involved in the case.
It was concluded that an attempt was being made to deprive the princess of the possibility of childbearing, or simply to kill before the heir to the throne appears. In 2001, modern scientists confirmed these facts. After the opening of the tomb of Maria Borisovna, a trace element analysis of her bones was carried out. Scientists have found a huge excess of zinc (more than 200 times), mercury and lead against the background of permissible norms. The unnaturally high levels of harmful compounds in the body undoubtedly killed the 23-year-old woman.
Namely this happened to Ivan the Terrible on the last day of his life.