* Chapter 1 depicts Moscow in the 1670s as a bustling commercial city and the Kremlin being a city within that is the center of both the church and its government run by the hereditary nobility.
* It describes Russia's pious and unassuming Tsar Alexis as a demigod, Orthodox Russia's foes that surround it, and how some 8 million serfs and peasants are scattered thinly around the countryside and live harmoniously with a nature that is harsh.
* Chapter 2 describes Natalya Naryshkin marrying widowed Alexis in 1671, bearing a healthy son Peter on 30 May 1672. Peter loses his father at age 3 and is seen as a threat to the Miloslavsky in-laws of invalid 15-year-old Tsar Fedor who returns to power.
* Fedor dies in 1682 without heir, and the choice is between physically challenged brother Ivan and healthy half-brother Peter. The people reluctantly acclaim the latter with Matveev recalled from exile to...
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