Mikhail was born in 1596 to Fedor Nikitich Romanov and Ksenia Ivanovna
Shestovaia. His ancestors are listed here. The
family was involved in the political struggles among the nobility throughout
the reign of Fyodor Ivanovich and Boris Gudunov. Both Fedor and Ksenia were
forced to take religious vows. Mikhail was sent into exile at Beloozero with
his uncle Prince Boris Cherkasskii. The first False Dmitrii freed his mother,
enabling Mikhail to return to her in the Moscow Kremlin, where they remained
until 1612, although his father was among those prisoners taken to Poland. He
then accompanied his mother to a place of relative safety in the strongly
fortified Ipat'ev Monastery across the Volga River at Kostroma. He was there,
when the agents of the Zemski Sobor arrived in 1613 to announce his election as
the new Tsar. Fearing the danger to his family, (his father still being held in
Poland) Mikhail at first refused, but was convinced by the appeal to his
patriotism in order to save Russia from further turmoil. Soon enough a Polish
detachment began searching for him around Kostroma. This occasioned the famous
self-sacrifice of Ivan Susan in, a local peasant who led the Poles deep into
the forest. (The act was immortalized in Glinka's famous opera "for the
life of a Tsar").
Summary of the reign:
Mikhail, aged 17, returned to the Kremlin where he was crowned on July 11th of
1613, thus initiating the new Romanov dynasty, which was to be Russia's last.
He was inexperienced and certainly not overly intelligent, but had the good
sense to surround himself with the members of the Zemski Sobor. The country was
in ruins. There were Polish and Swedish armies active on the borders and the
indomitable Marina was still putting on a good show in behalf of her son, at
Astrakhan. By 1615 all these enemies were dealt with successfully.
Mikhail's father, now known as the monk Filaret, and patriarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church, was released and returned to Moscow in 1619. He quickly took
over as the practical ruler of the country operating behind his son's throne.
Mikhail was fortunate and evidently knew it. During the 12 years between the
death of his father and his own, he did nothing to distinguish himself as a
ruler but managed to lose the Smolensk war (for which he executed his excellent
general, Shein) and to lose the fortress of Azov, which the Cossacks had taken
from the Turks and offered to Russia.
He was never very healthy. When he died on 12th July of 1645, he left the
throne to his sixteen-year-old son, Alexei. The
family is shown on this chart.
1614: Zarutskii, commander of the Cossack forces supporting Marina, was
captured and impaled. She was put in prison and her child was hanged at