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Boris Godunov
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    (1551-April 23, 1605)
    Served in the court of Tsar Ivan IV AKA 'Ivan the Terrible' (1570-84)
    De facto ruler of Russia as regent for Tsar Feodor I (1585-98)
    Tsar of Russia (Feb. 21, 1598-Apr. 23, 1605)
    Life was dramatized in Alexander Pushkin's play 'Boris Godunov' (1831)
    Play later served as the basis for Modest Mussorgsky's popular opera of the same name (premiered in 1874)
    Role has been sang by Bass-Baritone opera singers Mark Reizen, Alexander Pirogov, Boris Christoff, George London, Ivan Melnikov, Shaun Dooley, Robert Lloyd, Rene Pepe, and Ruggero Raimondi
    His surname sounded like 'good enough.'
    He was accused of murdering his way into the line of succession.
    Hhe married off his sister to Ivan the Terrible's mentally unstable son and heir, Feodor.
    WhenFeodor died childless, the throne passed to his widow, but she chose to become a nun.
    In an unprecedented move, he was 'elected' to the title of Tsar by a national assembly of the clergy and service gentry.
    When the move was met with opposition from the traditional royal 'Boyar' families, he saw to it that they were banished to weaken the opposition against him (including the Romanov family).
    He instituted an extensive spy system to monitor political opponents, ruthlessly persecuted those whom he suspected of collaborating against him.
    His reign was interrupted by the arrival of a young warlord claiming to be Ivan IV's (presumed deceased) son, Dmitry - and thereby rightful heir to the throne.
    ''Dmitry' invaded Muscovy with a small army. He was beaten by the Royal commandants, but soon after Godunov died suddenly, leaving the Empire vulnerable again.
    His inexperienced teenage son was proclaimed Tsar, but his generals defected to 'Dmitry' (in all likelihood one in a long line of documented 'pretenders'). Dmitry's reign lasted only a handful of months.
    He was the first Tsar to sanction the building of Lutheran churches in Russia.
    He reformed Russia's judicial system in the first year of his reign.
    He reformed Russia's education system, recognizing the nation's need to compete with their comparably enlightened Western neighbors.
    He was the first Tsar to propose sending Russian students to Western Europe to study.
    His reign was greeted with hostility from the start by the Boyar mainly because he was not of 'noble blood.'
    It has been argued that there is no solid proof that he caused the death of either of Ivan IV's sons, and it is very possible that the rumors were fueled by factional jealousy.
    He took on a series of benevolent reforms and policies, but his reign was undermined less by 'tyranny' than by his attempts to alleviate the effects of the Russian Famine of 1601-3 producing few positive results.
    His son ruled for only a few months, until he and his mother were murdered as part of the coup led by 'The Pretender'/Dmitry.
    His name would later serve as inspiration for the 'Boris Badenov' character on The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.
    Historians have long argued that Pushkin's play, and later the opera, characterized him unfairly for dramatic effect (as a Russian counterpart to King Macbeth).
    He was portrayed by the great Sergey Bondarchuk (basically Russia's Orson Welles) in a film 1986 adaptation of Pushkin's original play, which worked to depict him a little more sympathetically.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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