Table of contents:
- How did the Russian princess become the queen of Livonia?
- 2. The price of betrayal, or what did King Magnus expect to receive from Stephen Bathory?
- What adventure did the Polish king try to involve the Dowager Mary of Livonian?
- You can't get away from the tonsure, or what was the fate of Maria Staritskaya, the last queen of the Rurik family?
Maria Staritskaya had every chance to be not only the wife of the king of Livonia, but also to become a Russian queen, having inherited the throne of Ivan the Terrible's son, Fyodor Ivanovich. But instead of this, the last representative of the Rurikovich family was turned into a victim of other people's intrigues, forcing her to take her hair as a nun at the age of 28. Early marriage in the interests of politics, widowhood at a young age and the loss of a beloved daughter - this is all that the failed queen had before repose forever.
How did the Russian princess become the queen of Livonia?
Having conquered almost the entire territory of the Baltic by 1573, Ivan the Terrible needed to establish administrative and political control on it. The only candidate for the position of king of the vassal Livonian state was Duke Magnus - the younger brother of Frederick II, who occupied the Danish throne. Experiencing chronic lack of money, Magnus accepted the offer of the Russian tsar, who, in addition to the crown of Livonia, promised him his relative, Maria Staritskaya, to marry him.
In April 1573, by order of Ivan the Terrible, the 13-year-old princess was married according to the canons of the Orthodox Church. Her 33-year-old Lutheran fiancé went through the marriage ceremony according to the rules of his faith. The wedding took place in Novgorod, where for a whole week the guests congratulated the young, gave gifts and treated themselves from the table, which was bursting with food and intoxicating drinks.
At the end of the celebration, the newly-made married couple departed for the Livonian city of Karkus, presented to them, taking with them Mary's dowry - gold and silver dishes, precious jewelry, as well as 200 thousand rubles and expensive horses in rich decoration. The spouses were accompanied by boyars, noble ladies, many servants and two thousand horsemen - they were ordered to take care of the royal couple on the road and help to establish themselves, upon arrival, in new possessions.
2. The price of betrayal, or what did King Magnus expect to receive from Stephen Bathory?
Family life brought disappointment to the newlyweds, the reasons for which were the significant age difference, the language barrier, and the mismatch in ideas about marriage. Within a few months, the king lost interest in his wife and stopped paying attention to her, being distracted by entertainment and his own affairs, which recently received the status of "state".
By August 1573, having squandered Mary's dowry and the property entrusted by the tsar, Magnus, under the yoke of a lack of money, sent a letter to the Elector of Saxony. In it, informing about his marriage, he justified himself for his "anti-Christian act", which meant rapprochement with Ivan the Terrible, and asked for financial help, explaining it by the need to "strengthen the struggle for the good of the entire Christian world." Having received no response from Germany, the king turned for assistance to the Polish and Lithuanian ratmans, who also did not find a response.
Meanwhile, in 1576, changes took place in Poland: a new king, Stefan Batory, an intelligent Transylvanian prince with a real talent as a commander, received power. Establishing internal order in the country, he simultaneously began to fight with Moscow for the Baltic territories. After a decisive offensive in 1578, when the Polish king personally led the army, the Russians could not hold their positions, and most of the Baltic went under the control of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Feeling the precariousness of his position and constantly experiencing an acute need for money, Magnus handed over the Livonian lands to Batory, receiving a security guarantee and Pilten Castle in Latvia. So, after a long-term war for the Baltic coast, Ivan the Terrible was left with nothing, having lost almost overnight all the lands of the Livonian kingdom. Magnus himself, having gone over to the side of Batory, died in 1583 in poverty, leaving his wife and young daughter no means of subsistence.
What adventure did the Polish king try to involve the Dowager Mary of Livonian?
After the death of her husband, Maria remained to live in the castle, under the control of Cardinal Jerzy Radziwill and receiving a small salary from the Polish treasury. She refused to return to Moscow, as Batory had originally suggested to her, fearing the unpredictable and cruel nature of Ivan the Terrible.
Later, after the death of the tsar in 1584, no such proposals were received: knowing that Maria belongs to the Rurik family, the Transylvanian decided to keep her in the castle, hoping that the Livonian queen would claim the rights to the Russian throne. If successful, Batory hoped to have a queen in Moscow - loyal, and even better, dependent on the Commonwealth.
Boris Godunov, fearing such a development of events, drew the attention of Fyodor Ivanovich, who ascended the throne, to the fate of his closest relative, and suggested starting negotiations on Staritskaya's return to Moscow. Having received an official letter with a request to send Mary home, Batory put forward a condition - the queen will be released, but only as a legally recognized heir to the king.
Staritskaya herself did not show much desire to go on the road, but she was not tempted by the prospect of dragging out a miserable existence under constant control. It was decided to speed up events, saving the widow from doubts and hesitations, with the help of Godunov's secret agent - the Englishman Jerome Horsey.
You can't get away from the tonsure, or what was the fate of Maria Staritskaya, the last queen of the Rurik family?
Horsey coped with the task perfectly - he persuaded Mary to return to her native land, promising her a high reception and passing on the tsar's promise to provide a relative with a rich content. In August 1586, after 13 years of absence, the Queen Dowager returned to her homeland. At first, everything went well - Staritskaya was greeted with royal honors, presented to her with a large estate with servants, and guards were allocated. A serene life continued for two years, until in 1588 the tsar forced Maria Vladimirovna to take monastic vows and go to the Podsosensky monastery, which was seven miles from the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
The reasons that forced Fyodor Ivanovich to make such a decision are unknown. It is possible that the culprit of what happened was Boris Godunov, who, already possessing real power at that time, thus eliminated competitors for his planned reign. Whatever it was, but from now on Mary, who became a nun under the name Martha, lost all rights not only to the throne, but also to return to worldly life.
After a year of monastic life, Staritskaya lost her daughter - Evdokia Magnusovna died for unknown reasons, before she was 9 years old. And 8 years later, in 1597, Mary herself was buried, burying her under a tombstone with the inscription: "In the summer of 7105 June 13 days passed away the faithful queen-monk Martha Vladimirovna."
This story is one of many examples of how regents influenced the history of huge states and even regions.