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Michael Romanov, first tsar of the House of Romanov

Tsar of Russia (1613-1645)

full name Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov

Born: July 22 (Old Style July 12), 1596, Moscow
Died: July 23 (Old Style July 13), 1645, Moscow

Founder of the Romanov dynasty, which ruled Russia until 1917. Michael Romanov was the son of Feodor Nikitich Romanov (later known as Patriarch Filaret) and Xenia (later known as "the great nun" Martha). His reign marked the end of the Time of Troubles. Michael was related to the last tsar of the Rurik dynasty, Feodor III through his grandfather Nikita Romanov, who was Fyodor’s maternal uncle.

Michael was unanimously elected Tsar of Russia by a national assembly on February 21, 1613, but the delegates of the council did not discover the young Tsar and his mother at the Ipatiev Monastery near Kostroma until March 24. Initially, Martha protested, believing and stating that her son was too young for difficult roles. The boyars solemnly declared that if he persisted in his refusal, they would hold him responsible to God for the destruction of Russia. Michael eventually accepted the throne. Michael was crowned on July 22, 1613.

His first task as a tsar was to clear the land of robbers infesting it. Michael allowed his mother’s relatives to gain control of governmental affairs. Although they promoted their personal interests, they also restored order to Russia, suppressed internal uprisings, and made peace both with Sweden (Treaty of Stolbovo, 1617) and with Poland (Truce of Deulino, 1618). The most important result of the Truce of Deulino was the released from exile of the tsar’s father, who had been forced to become a monk under the name Philaret (Filaret).Upon his return to Russia, he was installed as patriarch of the church and Michael’s co-ruler. From then until his death in 1633, he dominated Michael’s government, which increased diplomatic, commercial, and cultural contact with western Europe, made extensive use of the zemski sobor (assembly of the land) as a popular consultative body, employed a variety of means to solve Russia’s continuing financial dilemmas, reformed the structure of local government to increase the authority of the central administration, and strengthened the institution of serfdom. When his father died, Michael’s maternal relatives again played prominent roles in his government until he died and left his throne to his son Alexis.