The Russian Tsar Feodore I (1584 – 1598) was by many observers believed to have been a cretin. He was unsteady on his feets (probably from rickets or polio in his youth). Feodore in spite of his physical problems was however a staunch imperialist and he built forts in many frontier areas of Russia. When he passed away in 1598 his wife Irene for a short while kept the reins. After a while Boris Gudonov was elected czar. At this time the ‘Time of the Troubles’ (1598 – 1613) were at hand.

Rule of Boris Gudonov in Russia

Boris reign was marred by terrible famines (1601 – 1603). A young man of unknown ancestry appeared at the time in Russia and called himself Czarevich Dmitry. This young man joined the Polish side of King Sigismund III. Dmitry marched into Russia in 1604 supported by the Poles. He swept into Moscow and was supported by the people. Boris soon lost control of his Russians and soon died mysteriously. His son Feodore was proclaimed czar but only ruled from April to July 1605, when he too died mysteriously. A while after Dmitry entered Moscow and was crowned. Soon, however, he was killed and Prince Vasily Shuisky was proclaimed czar. Now a second “false” Dmitry appeared on the scene (there would also be a third. For two years he held court around six miles from Moscow.

In 1609 Shuisky was forced to abdicate and the Russian invited Ladislaus, the Polish heir, to rule but Sigsmund of Poland wanted Russia for himself and seized Moscow.

Marching on Moscow 1609

Meanwhile the Swedes acted. King Charles IX of Sweden did not want a czar of Russia that was supported by Poland. On February 28, 1609, he signed the Treaty at Viborg with Shuisky. A Swedish army of 5 000 lead by Field Marshal Jakob De la Gardie, an enlisted officer from France, to invade Russia and place Shuisky on the Muscovite throne. The first leg of the march was for the city of Novgorod. Here the newphew of Shuisky, Michael Shuisky, waited with between 1,000 and 1,500 troops. On May 2 1609 the march on Moscow continued. The Swedish General Evert Horn took Staraja Russa during the waiting for the main army with De la Gardie. On May 17 General Horn led a force to defeat fleeing Russians at Kamenka and two days laters took the city of Torzhok. The Swedish army then turned on the city of Tver. The First Battle of Tver was undecided but a Swedish victory followed in the Second Battle of Tver.

Conquering Moscow in 1610

On March 12, 1610, the Swedish army under Field Marshal De la Gardie entered Moscow greeted by jubilant citizens. It was from this time suggestions were made for the incorporation of the whole Russian province of Novgorod in the Swedish empire and for a permanent link between Sweden and Russia in the form of a Swedish royal family Vasa czar (as secundogeniture in the reigning Swedish dynasty). This, however, came to a halt when Michael Romanov was elected czar

In June 1610 De la Gardie and Shuisky left Moscow to stop a Polish siege of Smolensk. This lead to the Battle of Klushino of June 25, 1610, and the Swedish army was here defeated by the Poles. From 1610 – 1617 Sweden and Russia fought the so called Ingrian Continuation War. Swedish armies maintained themselves in the Ingria and Kexholm regions even if Charlex IX had to deal with a Danish attack on Sweden. At the Peace of Stolbovo in 1617 the Russians had to cede the territories of Ingria and Kexholm. The frontier now went through Lake Ladoga and Gustavus II Adolphus now contemplating that “the Russian bear won’t find it so easy to jump that ditch.”


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