DEATH OF THE FIRST FALSE DMITRII

Account of Events Surrounding the Death of the False Dmitrii in 1606. Although Isaac Massa (1586-1643) is a shadowy Dutch figure, his name is very important in the history of the Time of Troubles. This is because the Dutch merchant and diplomatic agent lived in Moscow during that turbulent period, knew the language, and had close contact with many high-ranking officials of Moscow's bureaucracy, including Tsar Boris Godunov and his son Feodor. From his Muscovite contacts Massa received valuable information on all major developments in Moscow and Muscovy, including its new Siberian colony. He carefully recorded that information and, upon returning to Holland, published it in his History. Massa's experience in and knowledge of Muscovy transformed him into a Dutch "Kremlinologist." To counter the growing English influence, the Dutch Estates-General dispatched Massa to Moscow in 1615 to represent Dutch commercial interests. During that assignment he met and was well received by the newly elected Tsar Michael Romanov. In short, while Massa's observations contain some biases (especially anti-English) and lacunae, they are a very important contemporary source for the understanding of the Time of Troubles:

Dmitry Is Killed in Moscow with about Seven Hundred Poles:

On Saturday morning, May 17, towards the second hour of the day, a fearful pealing of bells resounded, first in the Kremlin and then through all the town. At the same time there was a tumult of horsemen riding armed and at a gallop towards the castle, and the cry the heralds of the conspiracy sounded in all the streets: "Brothers, the Poles want to assassinate the tsar! Do not let them into the Kremlin!" By this ruse, the Poles, seized with terror and armed in their houses, were pinned down by the multitude outside, eager to pillage and murder all of them. Even those found on the street in Polish garments were massacred relentlessly. When a patrol of Polish cavalry appeared in a street, they were barricaded at once by the closing of the barriers, where there were such, so that the horses could not get out. In streets without barriers, they made barricades of beams, the same that are used in this town to pave all the roads. Thus, there was a terrible massacre of all the Poles who could be found. The crowd also broke into a great number of Polish houses. Anyone trying to defend himself was run through with the sword. As for those who surrendered, almost all were spared, but they were so thoroughly plundered that they were not even left with shirts. The riot spread through the town; the entire population, including young boys and children, began running through the streets with bows, muskets, axes, sabres, pikes, and dubs, crying out and howling: "Death to the Poles! Let us take all they have!"

It was then that the conspirators killed the tsar in his apartments. Here is how this event took place. They had bribed a chancellor who was a saint in their eyes. He was very zealous in their religion, drank no strong liquor, and ate very sparingly; he was called Timofei Osipov. On that day-it was the day of the solemn oath with the kissing of the cross, which was sworn to the tsarina as sovereign lady of Moscow-this person was to present himself to the people and speak against this inauguration. The conspirators were to profit from this incident to attack the person of Dmitry. This Timofei had taken the sacrament twice, and receiving absolution from the priest or confessor, he had also been blessed in a great ceremony as a hero going to his death for his country and the wellbeing of his fellow citizens. In the morning, he had said his last farewell to his wife and children, who understood nothing about it, though his wife believed that he wanted to enter a monastery.

After he had done all this, Timofei went resolutely to the palace and entered the hall where the oath was to be administered. There, he cried that he recognized Dmitry, not as the tsar's son, but as an unfrocked monk named Grishka Otrepiev who had won the throne of Moscow only through the agency of the Devil; he held this throne unjustly. As for the tsarina, he refused to swear her allegiance. She was a lady Jesuit, a pagan whose presence had profaned the sanctuaries of Moscow, and it was she who was the cause of the country's ruin. He would have said more had he not been struck dead on the spot and thrown through a window.

Thereupon, the conspirators began sounding the tocsin and mounted hurriedly, their muskets loaded, by all the staircases at the same time. These conspirators were for the most part Muscovite lords and merchants. A great number came from Novgorod, Pskov, and other towns. For a long time, they had been coming secretly to Moscow to forward their design. The first thing they did was attack the halberdiers guarding the entrance hall of the palace. They disarmed them and took them prisoner. They were all shut in a room on the ground floor and threatened with death if they dared utter a single sound. At that moment, precisely half the guard were absent from their posts. Half the men had gone one way, half the other. In the end, God let all this happen to them through their own fault, for they could have kept a close watch. The conspirators spread out everywhere, killing anyone who resisted, and moved on the tsar's apartments firing musket shots.

Meanwhile, Dmitry had come out of his apartments, demanding to know what was happening and what was the cause of the tocsin and uproar. Those he questioned were seized with such terror that they did not know what to reply. Then he called for his sword, but he who was responsible for presenting it to him had already managed to escape, taking the sword with him. Sensing danger, the tsar seized a halberd and rushed into his apartments, closing and barring the doors. Hearing shots being fired through the windows and axe blows striking the door, he fled from room to room by secret passages, and finally leapt into a small room which was on a lower floor than the other apartments. While jumping, he was caught in the arms of a Livonian gentleman called Furstenberger who was trying to save him, for he was already spitting blood, but this gentleman was killed. Dmitry succeeded in reaching a bathhouse through an alley. He hoped from there to gain the outside by a hidden door and lose himself in the crowd, which was already rushing in hundreds up the back stairs. If he had been able to get himself into the crowd he would doubtless have escaped, and the townspeople would have massacred the lords and conspirators; but, knowing nothing of the affair, the people believed that the tsar was being attacked by the Poles, and that the conspirators were trying to save him. That was what they had been told so that they would pin the Poles down in the city. The conspirators pursued Dmitry into the secret passage, where he was trapped. They laid hold of him and quickly dragged him out, firing on him and striking him with their sabres and axes, for fear that he might escape again.

It is said that the lords who held him still questioned him on certain matters; but that was impossible, because they did not have time to pause. As soon as Dmitry saw the people, he cried: "Bring me on to the square, and listen to me! I will tell you who I am!" Then the conspirators, for fear of the people pressing about them, killed him in haste, shouting: "It is a renegade monk, and not Dmitry! He has admitted it himself!" They tied a strap to the corpse's feet, dragged it naked as a dog out of the Kremlin, and threw it on the square. Some conspirators went behind and ahead of this sorry procession, carrying masks, and calling to the people: "Here are the gods whom he adored!" Now these masks had been taken from the apartments of the tsarina, where they had been prepared for the masquerade that was to have been held for the tsar's entertainment. Not knowing what these objects were, the Muscovites believed, and still believe today, that these masks were really Dmitry's gods.

Various Opinions Concerning His Death

Some claim that he was still in bed, and that he was killed fleeing in his night shirt; but this version cannot be believed, for why would they have slit that chancellor's throat? They would have said that the chancellor was killed during the evening, but that is false, because I have the facts as I have reported them from eyewitnesses who were with the conspirators.

Meanwhile, the tsarina was half dead of fright. A crowd of people surrounded her apartments, breaking and pillaging everything they could find. A gentleman, one of the conspirators, came to her and conducted her to a vaulted chamber built of solid walls, where he placed a strong guard around her and some of her companions. As for the maids of honor, they underwent the most extreme outrages. They were all stripped naked, each of the conspirators taking from them his part of the booty, and having one of them as his share. They were led through the streets of the city like lambs by wolves, suffering all manner of humiliation. Some were even sold by their enraged ravishers, many of whom killed one another over the spoils.

It was amazing to see the mob carrying off what they had pillaged from the Poles-beds, bedding, mattresses, dothing, horses, harness, saddles, and furniture. It looked like the salvage from a conflagration.At the beginning of the uprising, Basmanov was still in his bath. It is said that he had spent the night with two women, and, according to the Russian custom, was purifying himself in the bathhouse.

As soon he heard the tocsin, he hastily dressed only in his undergarments, jumped on his horse, and, telling ten or twelve armed servants with loaded muskets to follow him, went off at the gallop towards the Kremlin. He believed that conflict had erupted between the Poles and the Muscovite lords, and had no suspicion of what was really going on. Reaching the palace, he came to the apartments, where a gentleman from Novgorod began to abuse him, calling him a traitor and the tsar a renegade monk. He made ready to reply, but was not given the chance. Ten swords struck him at once, and he fell. His body was thrown outside next to a wall, and dragged on the square. There, he was laid on a bench at the feet of the body of the Renegade Monk, or Dmitry, which lay on a table, and they were left there exposed to the view of the entire populace.

His Undertaking and Great Designs: His Plan to Change the Religion of Muscovy and Destroy all the Noble Families

In this, he was following the advice of a number of Poles-Sandomierski, Wisniowiecki, and others. He also contemplated some ambitious and extraordinary enterprises. He had at first resolved to kill all the Muscovite lords and great families. Having fixed a day for the execution of this plan, he secretly brought a large quantity of artillery to a place outside the town, with the aim, he said, of staging a mock battle after the marriage celebrations in the presence of all the lords, in the guise of a military parade; but he had given secret instructions to the Polish lords, his army commanders, Basmanov, and his other adherents. Each of them knew where he was to be, either in the town or in the Kremlin, and exactly whom he was responsible for killing. He himself was to be outside the city with all the artillery, Polish troops, and his supporters. If this attempt had gone according to plan, who would have been able to offer him any resistance in Moscow, since all the means for defending the town were in his possession? But God would not permit it, and gave the Muscovites the strength to destroy him who had conceived it.

Only Buczynski had the courage to dissuade Dmitry from his project, pointing out to him how contrary to God's will it would be, and advising him to draw the magnates to him by tokens of favor, giving them functions in which they could not become too powerful. With the aid of time, he would thus be reconciled with all hearts; but he, who knew the Muscovite character better, relied that these people could not be governed by gentle methods; rather, the most rigorous means had to be used with them. This is true, for a Muscovite must be held by fear and led by force. As soon as he is allowed his own will a little, he does no good. Dmitry thought it best to dispose of the magnates first so that he could the reign uncontrolled over a wicked and igno`rant people, doing anything he desired with them.

This proved to be ample justification for the Muscovites' actions as far as .all the foreign rulers were concerned, for after Dmitry's death, written evidence of his plans was found-lists of those who were to be killed and the names of the Poles who would replace them in their offices. These documents were read out to the people, who thereby felt all the more joy and security in what they had just accomplished. Copies were sent to Poland and other foreign powers in order to make these facts known to all. There is no doubt that if these plans of Dmitry and the Jesuits had succeeded, much harm would have befallen the country. Much harm would also have been done to the whole world through the machinations of the court of Rome, of which Dmitry had been the mere instrument. But God, who rules all, overturned their designs, for which all true believers should render him thanks.

Although he was a hero and a warrior, Dmitry was a very dissolute man. He abused innocent young girls every day, and got a number of young nuns with child. He also had a shameful passion for a young gentleman of the powerful family of Khvorostinin {Guorostinin}. He conferred great honors on this conceited young man, who was full of arrogance because he was allowed to do anything he pleased.

Dmitry's Corpse is Cast into a Ditch

I counted his wounds. They were to the number of twenty-one. His skull had been stove in from above, and his brain lay beside him. The following Thursday, the body was thrown into a ditch. As for Basmanov, he was buried by his brother with the permission of the court. We have said enough about the character of this tsar; but there are those who claim that he was none other than Satan himself-who later, using the same mask and the same name, caused yet further evil, and continues to cause evils that are ten times more terrible than those of the past. Is it not extraordinary, in fact, that they are always occasioned by the same name-Dmitry's? God's justice appears in such diverse and astonishing ways to punish nations and cities. Did not the divine Homer rightly say: "God looks upon mortal things and punishes justice, and the just deeds of men. Jupiter sees all the actions of men, and punishes the wicked. The immortal gods detest crimes; they love justice and the men who practice it."

Dmitry's Body Is Burned

There was a great prodigy the same night Dmitry's body was thrown out. Within a radius of twenty miles from Moscow, all the plants, from blades of grass to trees, were dried up at their tops, as if a fire had passed by. The pine trees, which are always green, winter and summer, had their crowns and sprouts burnt. It was a sad spectacle, and on seeing this prodigy the Muscovites commented that the late tsar had yet again, with Satants help, sent his spirit on the earth to do evil. To put an end to this, they saw fit to burn his body. They went to dig him up, and at the same time seized the wooden castle he had built on the ice during the winter, called the "Monster of Hell" by the Russians. They carried it out of the city to the small stream of Kotly, and enclosing the body inside it, burned it completely, and the wind dispersed its ashes.

Vasily Ivanovich Shuisky Becomes Emperor in Moscow

After that, the Muscovites believed they had done everything possible and won a complete victory, and could live thereafter without fear or care. The magnates elected a tsar from their own number; their choice fell upon Shuisky. They led him on to the square before the assembled people, and their orator cried out that they had just chosen Vasily Ivanovich Shuisky as tsar; that they had not been able to find a better or more worthy man among them. He was a man who many times risked his life for the public good and the country's well-being. Then the orator, addressing the community, asked if they approved the choice they had just made, seeing that the land could not long remain without a sovereign. With one voice, the community shouted that they were completely satisfied, that nobody was more worthy of the throne. Everybody submitted to the newly elected, and they prostrated themselves at his feet, saying: "Health and prosperity to Vasily Ivanovich, tsar and Grand Prince of all the Russias!" Then the magnates led him to the church, where thanksgiving was offered to God for the deliverance of the empire.