Patriarch Philaret of Moscow

Nation: Russia

Religious Figure

Birth Date: 1553
Russia Patriarch Philaret of Moscow Religious Figure Cover
I. Origins and The Time of Troubles
II. Coregency with Son Mikhail
III. Securing a Consort for Mikhail
IV. Patron of Theology
V. Death and Importance
I. Origins and The Time of Troubles
Fyodor Nikitich Romanov, the second son of the boyarin Nikita Romanovich, was born about 1553. The handsome, high-spirited youth, who won the hearts of the people by his frank bonhomie and the respect of the learned by his erudition (he was one of the half-dozen Moscovites of his day who knew a little Latin), seemed from the first to be marked out for a high career. During the reign of his first cousin, Fyodor I, Fyodor Romanov equally distinguished himself as a soldier and as a diplomatist, fighting against the Swedes in 1590, and conducting negotiations with the ambassadors of Kaiser Rudolf in 1593/4.

On the death of the childless Tsar in 1598, Fyodor Romanov was the popular candidate for the vacant throne, and it was even rumored the Fyodor on his death-bed had appointed his cousin his successor. Nevertheless, he acquiesced in the election of Boris Gudunov and shared the disgrace of his too powerful family, three years later, when Boris compelled both him and his wife, Ksenia Chestovaya, to take monastic vows under the names of Philaret and Martha respectively. Mikhail, their sole surviving son, was at the same time imprisoned with his aunt, Nastasia, at Byelozera. Philaret, as we must now call him, was kept in the strictest confinement in the Antoniev Monastery, where he was exposed to every conceivable indignity, but when, in 1608, that genial imposter the first pseudo-Demetrius overthrew the Godunovs, he released Philaret and made him Metropolitan of Rostov (1605).

Philaret, in 1609, fell into the hands of the Thief of Tushino, as the second pseudo-Demetrius is generally called, who named him Patriarch of all Russia, and he actually exercised the patriarchal office over the very limited area which acknowledged the pretender. On the flight of the second pseudo-Demetrius, Philaret found his way, in 1610, to Moscow, and was sent from thence on an embassy to King Sigismund, of Poland, at Smolensk, but refusing to acknowledge either that ruler or his son Wladislaus, Tsar of Moscovy, he was detained and transported to Lithuania, where for the next eight years he remained an unwilling guest in the mansion of Sapiehas.

Bain, R. N. (1905). Tsar Michael and the patriarch Philaret, 1613-1645. In The first Romanovs, 1613-1725 (pp. 47-48). London: A. Constable.
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II. Coregency with Son Mikhail
The tidings of his son's election was, at first, by no means welcome to Fyodor Romanov, and he hinted pretty plainly that a better Gosudar might easily have been chosen from among the other boyar families. Whether his disappropriation was due to pique or anxiety, it is difficult to determine. Anyhow, on returning to Moscovy he both gratified his own ambition and served his country by reigning conjointly with Mikhail.

On June 14/28 Tsar Mikhail and his boyars, escorted by crowds of people, went forth from Moscow to welcome Philaret. Five miles from the city, on the banks of the river Pryesna, father and son met again after a separation of nine years. The meeting was an affecting one. Both the Tsar and the archbishop went down on their knees and remained in that position for a long time dissolved in tears. Ten days later, Philaret submitted to be enthroned as Patriarch by Theophanes, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the prelates of the Russian Church, and henceforth, till his death in 1633, the established government of Moscovy was a diarchy. During the fourteen years there were two actual Gosudars, Mikhail Fyodorovich, and his father the Most Holy Patriarch Philaret Nikitich. Theoretically they were coregents. Foreign ambassadors presented their credentials to them together and simultaneously, the only distinction being that while the Tsar occupied his throne, the Patriarch, in equally resplendent robes, sat at his right hand in a golden chair.

Each ruler replied separately to the ambassadors, and gave and accepted separate gifts. In private letters Philaret invariably addressed his son as "Your Majesty," and the name of Mikhail preceded that of his father in all public documents, but, on the other hand, Philaret frequently transacted affairs of state alone and without even consulting the Tsar. Naturally, the domination of the experienced and energetic Patriarch was deeply resented by the clique of courtiers who had hitherto been nearest to the young Tsar, but who, if influence should not be accompanied by ability, had no right to be near him at all. These dispossessed self-seekers loudly exclaimed against the ambition and the cruelty of Philaret, who, they said, oppressed the boyars and terrorized the Tsar himself. But all those who hated anarchy and loved good government welcomed the advent to power of an enlightened statesman who protected the weak against the tyranny of the strong, and was gracious to all men of learning and ability irrespective of birth or rank.

Bain, R. N. (1905). Tsar Michael and the patriarch Philaret, 1613-1645. In The first Romanovs, 1613-1725 (pp. 48-49). London: A. Constable.
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III. Securing a Consort for Mikhail
The first care of the Patriarch was to secure the succession by getting the Tsar married. Before his arrival Mikhail had been betrothed to Maria Ivanovna Khlopova, but just as she was about to be proclaimed Tsarita she was suddenly discovered to be an incurable invalid, and consequently injurious to the Tsar's health, whereupon the unfortunate girl, and her who family, were incontinently banished to Siberia. Philaret was bent upon raising the dignity of the new dynasty by securing a consort for his son from a foreign sovereign house, and embassies were sent to Copenhagen and Stockholm for the purpose. But Christian IV of Denmark refused even to receive the Moscovite envoy, while Gustavus Adolphus, on hearing that his sister-in-law, Catherine of Brandenburg, the lady selected by Philaret, would have first to be rebaptised into the Orthodox Church, declared, with a bigotry not inferior to that of Philaret's, that the princess should no sacrifice her soul's salvation even for the Tsardom of Moscovy.

Philaret then fell back upon the original bride, who, in the meantime, had cautiously crept back from Tobolsk to Nizhny Novgorod. Suspecting treachery, he ordered the state of her health to be examined medically, when it came to light that her pretended illness had been a trick of the rival Saltuikov family, who had temporarily injured her digestion by hocussing her vodka. The Saltuikovs were promptly banished to Siberia for "interrupting the Tsar's wedding and pleasure," and the whole incident serves to show us what sort of people surrounded the young Tsar before the arrival of the father. The victimized lady received a handsome maintenance by way of compensation, but the Tsar, to please his mother, married, instead of her, the Princess Maria Vladimirovna Dolgorukova, who died within a year of her espousals, whereupon he gave his hand to Eudoxia Streshneva, the daughter of a small squire, who thus became the matriarch of the Imperial Romanovs.

Bain, R. N. (1905). Tsar Michael and the patriarch Philaret, 1613-1645. In The first Romanovs, 1613-1725 (pp. 49-50). London: A. Constable.
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IV. Patron of Theology
Patriarch Philaret encouraged the publication of theological works, formed the nucleus of the subsequently famous Patriarchal Library, and instituted a special department for the revision of liturgical books. Numerous were the new editions published for distribution among churches and monasteries, or for sale in the book booths of Moscow, many of them edited, or revised, by the Patriarch himself. He also commanded that every archbishop should establish a seminary in his palace, and he himself founded a Greco-Latin institute in the Chudov Monastery. It was Philaret, too, who renewed the relations of Moscow with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and encouraged learned Greeks to settle at Moscow to instruct the Orthodox clergy. How necessary the vigorous intervention of this severe but equitable archpastor in Church matters really was may be gathered from the curious story of the i ognem ("And with fire") controversy which agitated Moscow at the beginning of Tsar Mikhail's reign.

Bain, R. N. (1905). Tsar Michael and the patriarch Philaret, 1613-1645. In The first Romanovs, 1613-1725 (p. 52). London: A. Constable.
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V. Death and Importance
A national assembly had sanctioned the Second Polish War, and another national assembly submissively voted for peace when Tsar Michael explained that failure was due to the wholesale desertion of the Moscovite soldiers, and to the insufficiency of the subsidies, which had come in more slowly and scantily than at any previous period of his reign. It is doubtful, however, whether the war would have been concluded so hastily, but for the death of the Patriarch Philaret, who expired, at the age of eighty, in October 1633. His death was the withdrawal of the strongest prop from a government feeble enough even when supported by all the weight of his authority.

Joasaphus I, his successor on the patriarchal throne, was utterly insignificant. It is also certain that Shein would never have been sacrificed had his old comrade and fellow exile in Poland survived for another twelve months, nor can we imagine the energetic old statesman abandoning the Don Cossacks as his successors did in the curious affair of Azov, when Moscovy's paralyzing dread of the Sublime Porte prevented her from getting for nothing a valuable possession which Peter the Great, sixty years later, only gained after an enormous outlay of blood and treasure.

Bain, R. N. (1905). Tsar Michael and the patriarch Philaret, 1613-1645. In The first Romanovs, 1613-1725 (pp. 61-62). London: A. Constable.
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