Russian Royalty. She was the oldest daughter of the second Romanov Tsar, Aleksey the Meek, and his first wife, Mariya Miloslavskaya. According to the Julian calendar still in use at the time, her date of birth was September 17, 1657, although her date of birth on the Gregorian calendar used by most of the rest of the world was September 27. Although she wasn't considered to be what many would describe as a beautiful woman, and was also rather corpulent, she was a very bright, intelligent, driven, well-educated woman, with strong political ambitions. At the time, however, women in Russia could not become rulers, so she had to serve as Regent for her younger halfbrother Peter the Great and her youngest full brother Ivan V, who had been appointed as dual Tsars. Because her older brother Fyodor had died, she took on the role as Regent because she was the oldest surviving child of Tsar Aleksey. Her regency lasted from May 29, 1682 until September 1689. Since she was a female royal, she was also prohibited from marrying, although she didn't hesitate to have lovers. Very early in her reign, the Raskolniki (Old Believers) revolted, taking advantage of the political unrest that already existed to demand the reversal of the reforms to the Russian Orthodox Church that the Patriarch Nikon had instituted in 1653. The streltsy (a unit of royal guardsmen) were also unhappy that she had tried to appoint herself Tsarina, and revolted themselves. She and the members of her court fled the Kremlin and took shelter in the Troitse Sergiyeva Lavra monastery, the most important monastery in Russia. However, she managed to put down the rebellion with the help of Fyodor Shaklovity, whom she appointed as the new head of the streltsy. During Sofya's reign, many important things happened. She signed a peace treaty with China on August 27, 1689, concluded the final peace treaty with Poland in 1686, and opened the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy in Moscow. She also started a war with the Crimean khanate in Turkey, but the war ended up a stalemate and didn't do anything for her popularity. Her most important minister of state was Prince Vasiliy Golitsyn, who was also only the third Russian to earn the title Keeper of the Great Seal. He was also reputed to be Sofya's lover. Sofya's reign should have ended in 1684 when her younger brother Ivan got married, but because he had been in poor health, both mentally and physically, since birth, it was decided Sofya would continue to rule. In 1689, when Peter turned seventeen, he announced his desire to take over as the one and only ruler of Russia, but Sofya did not like the idea of relinquishing her power just because she was a woman. As the political infighting surrounding Peter and Sofya was getting more and more tense and hostile, the streltsy revolted against Shaklovity, and in response, Shaklovity began making plans to murder Peter and his mother. Peter and his mother escaped to the Troitse Sergiyeva Lavra monastery, where they received protection from troops who supported them. Sofya followed them to the monastery, together with her boyars and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, and tried to convince them to come back to Moscow so they could share power, but Peter did not want to negotiate with her. Once again the streltsy revolted against Shaklovity and Sofya and supported Peter. Shaklovity was later prosecuted for having conspired against Peter. Once Peter had become the Tsar, he had Sofya put under house arrest and sent off to the Novodevichy Monastery after she agreed to surrender her senior boyars. However, she did not want to give up her power without a fight, and managed to communicate with members of the streltsy who had stayed loyal to her. In 1698 her supporters rebelled while Peter was out of Russia, and the streltsy tried to get her back into power. The rebellion was put down by Peter's troops very swiftly and strongly. Even though more than a thousand people were questioned and prosecuted, an inquiry was held, and many streltsy were tortured, no one could prove that Sofya had been behind the rebellion. Following this, the institution of the streltsy was disbanded, and Sofya was forced to become a nun. After being made to take the veil and the name Susanna, she was kept in very strict seclusion and not allowed to see even the other nuns except for on Easter. Six years later she died at the age of forty-six. According to the Russian Julian calendar her death date was July 3, 1704; the date on the modern Gregorian calendar was July 14.
Bio by: Carrie-Anne