On July 11, 1613, the coronation ceremony of Mikhail Romanov took place at the Uspensky Sobor (Dormition Cathedral) at the Moscow Kremlin. The sixteen-year-old Mikhail became the Tsar of all Russia and the founder of the great Romanov dynasty.
The son of Fyodor Romanov and Kseniya Shestova, Mikhail was elected Tsar by the people of Russia and a council of nobles during the “Time of Troubles.” At that time, Russia was going through the Polish-Lithuanian invasion, severe political, economic, and social crisis.
No other noble family at that time in Russia enjoyed such love among the people as the Romanovs did. However, getting Mikhail onto the throne was a rather difficult task…
Mikhail refused to take the role when he heard the news of his election. His mother was scared for his safety, believing that he was too young and inexperienced to rule in such a troublesome time. Mother and son went hiding in the Ipatiev Monastery, near Kostroma, from the nobles who wanted to convince Mikhail to take the crown.
According to a legend, as soon as the Poles discovered that Mikhail Romanov was selected as the Tsar, they sent troops to Kostroma to find and kill Mikhail.
Because the Poles did not know the road to Kostroma very well, they started asking the locals for directions. This is when they met local peasant Ivan Susanin, who asked them why they wanted to find him. The Poles said that they wished to congratulate the new Tsar on his coronation.
However, Susanin did not believe them. He sent his grandson to warn Mikhail and told the troops:
“This is not the right way, let me show you a shortcut, through the forest.”
The Poles believed Susanin and followed him.
Susanin led them into the swampy forest in the dead of winter, deliberately getting them lost in the wilderness. When the Poles began to suspect him, it was too late. Susanin said:
“Now, you can do with me whatever you like, but know this: the Tsar has been saved and you will never reach him!”
The next day, the peasants found the frozen bodies of the Polish troops together with Susanin’s body…
When the Moscow nobles found Mikhail and his mother safe and sound in the Ipatiev Monastery, they convinced them to come to Moscow. The Tsar was crowned on this day.
Mikhail Romanov ruled Russia for 32 years and brought order and peace to his country. He marked the start of the great Romanov dynasty that lasted 300 years.
As the legend says, Susanin’s family was generously rewarded by the Tsar. Mikhail Romanov was present at the funeral of the man who had given his life for him.
The self-sacrificing act of this iconic Russian hero had inspired many artists, composers, and writers. A statue of Susanin stands in the historical city of Kostroma.