LISEITSEV D.V. The Zemsky Sobor of 1613: Elections Without Choice or Choice Without Elections?


Dmitry V. Liseitsev

Doctor of Sciences (History), Leading Researcher,

Institute of Russian History, RAS,

Dm. Ulyanova St., 19, 117292 Moscow, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. There is a significant amount of research devoted to the Zemsky Sobor of 1613, but even nowadays historians cannot agree on this event. There is a dominating concept in historiography whose supporters consider the election to the throne of Mikhail Romanov as the result of the national consensus and unity and also regard this as the end of the Time of Troubles. Meanwhile, a great number of sources indicate the decisive role of Cossacks in the enthronement process of the new dynasty founder. Possessing a numerical superiority over the supporters of the Zemsky Sobor, which did not act in full force, Cossacks achieved the proclamation of Mikhail Romanov as a Tsar.

Methods and materials. Solving this contradiction in the conclusions of researchers is possible only with the widest involvement of historical sources. First of all, the documents of the last weeks and days of “mezhdutsarstvie” should be analyzed. The attempts to follow ideologically conditioned concepts cannot bring satisfactory results in the solution of scientific problems.

Analysis. Document analysis of the late 1612 and the early1613 leads to the conclusion that after the liberation of Moscow, the real power in the capital was in the hands of “duumvirate” – the leaders of the militia of Pr. D.T. Trubetskoy and Pr. D.M. Pozharsky. They did not lose their influence even when many orders were officially proclaimed on behalf of the Zemsky Sobor. At the same time, Pr. Trubetskoy seriously planned to take the throne with the help of Cossacks. The unexpected intervention of Cossacks in the support of Mikhail Romanov broke Trubetskoy’s plans. Nevertheless, the “duumvirs” tried to ignore the acclamation that took place on February 21, 1613 for several days.

Results. Only under the pressure of the armed Cossack mass, the government had to swear allegiance to Mikhail Romanov and begin notifying provinces on the election of a new sovereign. Despite this fact, the leaders of the people’s militia retained the influence in the capital until the arrival of Tsar Mikhail to Moscow. Thus, preserved sources allow to significantly clarify the course of political events in Moscow in the first months of 1613.

Key words: The Time of Troubles, the Moscow State, the Zemsky Sobor of 1613, Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov, Cossacks, government of the “Council of All the Earth”.

Citation. Liseitsev D.V. The Zemsky Sobor of 1613: Elections Without Choice or Choice Without Elections? Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2019, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 137-146. (in Russian). DOI:

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The Zemsky Sobor of 1613: Elections Without Choice or Choice Without Elections? by Liseitsev D.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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