A CHANGE OF DYNASTY.
From 1608 to 1680.
Conquests by Poland.—Sweden in Alliance with Russia.—Grandeur of Poland.—Ladislaus Elected King of Russia.—Commotions and Insurrections.—Rejection of Ladislaus and Election of Michael Feodor Romanow.—Sorrow of His Mother.—Pacific Character of Romanow.—Choice of a Bride.—Eudochia Streschnew.—The Archbishop Feodor.—Death of Michael and Accession of Alexis.—Love in the Palace.—Successful Intrigue.—Mobs in Moscow.—Change in the Character of the Tzar.—Turkish Invasions.—Alliance Between Russia and Poland.
This public testimonial of conjugal love led men, who had before doubted the pretender, to repose confidence in his claims. The King of Poland took advantage of the confusion now reigning in Russia to extend his dominions by wresting still more border territory from his great rival. In this exigence, Zuski purchased the loan of an army of five thousand men from Sweden by surrendering Livonia to the Swedes. With these succors united to his own troops, he marched to meet the pretended Dmitri. There was now universal confusion in Russia. The two hostile armies, avoiding a decisive engagement, were maneuvering and engaging in incessant petty skirmishes, which resulted only in bloodshed and misery. Thus five years of national woe lingered away. The people became weary of both the claimants for the crown, and the nobles boldly met, regardless of the rival combatants, and resolved to choose a new sovereign.
Poland had then attained the summit of its greatness. As an energetic military power, it was superior to Russia. To conciliate Poland, whose aggressions were greatly feared, the Russian nobles chose, for their sovereign, Ladislaus, son of Sigismond, the King of Poland. They hoped thus to withdraw the Polish armies from the banners of the pretended Dmitri, and also to secure peace for their war-blasted kingdom.
Ladislaus accepted the crown. Zuski was seized, deposed, shaved, dressed in a friar’s robe and shut up in a convent to count his beads. He soon died of that malignant poison, grief. Dmitri made a show of opposition, but he was soon assassinated by his own men, who were convinced of the hopelessness of his cause. His party, however, lasted for many years, bringing forward a young man who was called his son. At one time there was quite an enthusiasm in his favor, crowds flocked to his camp, and he even sent embassadors to Gustavus IX., King of Sweden, proposing an alliance. At last he was betrayed by some of his own party, and was sent to Moscow, where he was hanged.
Sigismond was much perplexed in deciding whether to consent to his son’s accepting the crown of Russia. That kingdom was now in such a state of confusion and weakness that he was quite sanguine that he would be able to conquer it by force of arms and bring the whole empire under the dominion of his own scepter. His armies were already besieging Smolensk, and the city was hourly expected to fall into their hands. This would open to them almost an unobstructed march to Moscow. The Poles, generally warlike and ambitious of conquest, represented to Sigismond that it would be far more glorious for him to be the conqueror of Russia than to be merely the father of its tzar.