Feodor, influenced by the wise counsels of his father, devoted much attention to the beautifying of his capital, and to developing the internal resources of the empire. He paved the streets of Moscow, erected several large buildings of stone in place of the old wooden structures. Commerce and arts were patronized, he even loaning, from the public treasury, sums of money to enterprising men to encourage them in their industrial enterprises. Foreigners of distinction, both scholars and artisans, were invited to take up their residence in the empire. The tzar was particularly fond of fine horses, and was very successful in improving, by importations, the breed in Russia.
Feodor had always been of an exceedingly frail constitution, and it was evident that he could not anticipate long life. In the year 1681 he married a daughter of one of the nobles. His bride, Opimia Routoski, was also frail in health, though very beautiful. Six months had hardly passed away ere the youthful empress exchanged her bridal robes and couch for the shroud and the tomb. The emperor himself, grief-stricken, was rapidly sinking in a decline. His ministers almost forced him to another immediate marriage, hoping that, by the birth of a son, the succession of his half brother Peter might be prevented. The dying emperor received into his emaciate, feeble arms the new bride who had been selected for him, Marva Matweowna, and after a few weeks of languor and depression died. He was deeply lamented by his subjects, for during his short reign of less than three years he had developed a noble character, and had accomplished more for the real prosperity of Russia than many a monarch in the longest occupation of the throne.
Feodor left two brothers—Ivan, a brother by the same mother, Eudocia, and Peter, the son of the second wife of Alexis. Ivan was very feeble in body and in mind, with dim vision, and subject to epileptic fits. Feodor consequently declared his younger brother Peter, who was but ten years of age, his successor. The custom of the empire allowed him to do this, and rendered this appointment valid. It was generally the doom of the daughters of the Russian emperors, who could seldom find a match equal to their rank, to pass their lives immured in a convent.
Feodor had a sister, Sophia, a very spirited, energetic woman, ambitious and resolute, whose whole soul revolted against such a moping existence. Seeing that Feodor had but a short time to live, she left her convent and returned to the Kremlin, persisting in her resolve to perform all sisterly duties for her dying brother. Ivan, her own brother, was incapable of reigning, from his infirmities. Peter, her half-brother, was but a child. Sophia, with wonderful energy, while tending at the couch of Feodor, made herself familiar with the details of the administration, and, acting on behalf of the dying sovereign, gathered the reins of power into her own hands.