MARIA BORISOVNA (c. 1438 - † April 22, 1467 in Moscow), Princess of Moscow and the Grand Princess of Vladimir, since June 4, 1452 the first wife of Prince of Moscow and the Grand Prince of Vladimir Ivan III
Wedding of Ivan III and Maria Borisovna (The Illustrated Chronicle of the 60s-70s of the XVI century.)

MARIA BORISOVNA (c. 1438 - † April 22, 1467 in Moscow), Princess of Moscow and the Grand Princess of Vladimir, since June 4, 1452 the first wife of Prince of Moscow and the Grand Prince of Vladimir Ivan III


  • Boris Alexandrovich, the Grand Prince of Tver (1426-1461)


  • Anastasia Andreevna, daughter of Andrei of Mozhaisk, granddaughter of Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy, Prince of Moscow and the Grand Prince of Vladimir


The exact date of birth of Maria Borisovna, the only daughter of Boris of Tver, is not mentioned in the sources. However, frequent references to her early engagement with Ivan, the son of Vasily II Vasilyevich suggest that she was born around 1438. Her mother Anastasia Andreevna of Mozhaisk was the granddaughter of Dmitry Donskoy, and her father Boris Alexandrovich was a Tver prince. During the years of the internecine struggle between Vasily II the Dark and Yuri of Zvenigorod and Dmitry Shemyaka, Boris Alexandrovich did his best to strengthen his own principality, supporting either Vasily II or Shemyaka, serving Vitautas and participating in various coalitions, without finally adhering to any of them (see: 4, p. 281–316; 11, p. 507–511).

The chronicles expressed the opinion that Boris was involved in the blinding of Vasily II in 1446, but that is unlikely [II, p. 67; IV, p. 196; VIII, p. 264; 6, p. 38]. A number of researchers agree that the position of Boris Alexandrovich at that time was so strong that the prince could not only afford not to support Shemyaka, but also dictate his own conditions for a possible alliance with one of the opposing sides. As a result, his ally became Vasily II, who, after being blinded, was hiding in Tver. It was at this time, apparently, that agreements were reached with Boris on assistance in the return of the Moscow throne. The engagement of Ivan Vasilyevich, the future Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan III, and Maria Borisovna was to seal the contract. There is no doubt that the engagement, and subsequently the marriage, was exclusively an act of diplomacy [1; 4, p. 311; 10, p. 803]. At the time of the betrothal Ivan was seven years old, Maria was about the same age.

Some chronicles show this event in different ways. Pro-Moscow chroniclers speak of marriage as a condition that Boris Aleksandrovich set the blinded prince in case of help; The Tver chronicals shows the engagement as a voluntary and mutually beneficial act that sealed the union of two equal princes [V, p. 260; 4, p. 301].

The wedding took place on June 4 / July 4, 1452 in Moscow [III, cl. 495; IV p. 208; VI, p. 155; VIII, p. 272-273; 4, p. 311; 5, p. 287-288; 6, p. 39] when Ivan Vasilyevich reached the age of twelve. This haste was due to the tense political environment. The strengthening of Dmitry Shemyaka in Zavolchye, the campaign of the Tatar prince Azov Xaikh to Moscow, the difficulties with Novgorod - all this spurred Vasily the Dark, whose position on the throne was shaken again, to activate the alliance with Tver, which was now vital for him [4, p. 311].

In February 1458, Maria's only son, Ivan Ivanovich the Young, was born.

In 1462, after the death of his father, twenty-two-year-old Ivan Vasilievich became the Grand Prince of Moscow, and Maria Borisovna became the Grand Princess. Shortly before that, Boris Alexandrovich died in Tver and the Tver throne passed to Maria's half-brother, eight-year-old Mikhail.

The chronicles note the quiet disposition and docile nature of the Moscow princess [II, p. 117]. The more strange and unexpected looks the sudden death of Maria Borisovna on April 22 [IX, p. 117] or April 25, 1467 [V, p. 277]. Studies of the burial of the princess and descriptions of her death in sources prompted scientists to believe that Maria was poisoned [V, p. 277; 8, p. 119-120]. Ivan III himself was not in Moscow at that time, he was in Kolomna, where a message about the death of his wife was sent. The princess was hastily buried the very next day after her death, without waiting for the return of the Grand Prince. Maria Borisovna's servant, Natalya Poluektova, was accused of murder [V, p. 277]. The reasons for the poisoning of the princess are still not completely clear. Ivan III remarried only in 1473 to Sophia (Zoya) Palaiologina.

Another incident is associated with the name of Princess Maria, which occurred several years after her death. Ivan III allegedly wanted to give his daughter-in-law, Ivan the Young's wife Elena of Moldavia, jewelry that once belonged to Maria, for the birth of his grandson. However, it turned out that the so-called sazhenie (necklace) was given by Sophia Palaiologina as a dowry to her niece, who married Vasily Mikhailovich of Vereisk. Upon learning of this, Ivan III sent to Vasily Mikhailovich, but he and his wife managed to escape to Lithuania [I, p. 235; VII, p. 202-203; 1; 3; 9, p. 59; 10, p. 889]. Researchers doubt the credibility of the above story, which reflected the court far from benevolent attitude towards the "Roman" Sophia [2, p. 231]. L. V. Cherepnin, nevertheless, draws attention to the symbolic meaning of the transfer of jewelry. Ivan III made the son of Ivan the Young from his first marriage a prince of Tver, which not only infringed upon the interests of Mikhail Borisovich, but contributed to the transfer of the Tver principality to the rule of Moscow. The birth of a son Dmitry to Ivan Ivanovich jeopardized the interests of Sophia and her son Vasily Ivanovich, since Ivan III could secure the transfer of the grand-princal table through the male line of his son from his first marriage [10, p. 890] (see: Sophia (Zoya) Palaiologina, Elena Stephanovna (of Moldavia).


  • Ivan Ivanovich the Young, Prince of Moscow and the Grand Prince of Vladimir (1480-1490), Prince of Tver (1485-1490)


Perhaps the court included clerk Vasily Poluektov and his wife Natalia [V, p. 277]


Maria Borisovna owned a shroud with the image of the icon of Our Lady of Smolensk Hodegetria. Now it is in the collection of the State Museum of the Moscow Kremlin [7, p. 56-75].


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IX. PSRL. T. XXVIII. Letopisnyi svod 1497 g. Letopisnyi svod 1518 g. M.; L., 1963.



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11.     Ekzempliarskii A.V. Velikie i udel'nye kniaz'ia severnoi Rusi v tatarskii period s 1238 g. po 1505 g.: biograficheskie ocherki po pervoistochnikam i glavneishim posobiiam. T. 2. Vladetel'nye kniaz'ia  Vladimirskikh i Moskovskikh udelov i velikie i udel'nye vladetel'nye kniaz'ia Suzdal'sko-Nizhegorodskie, Tverskie. Riazanskie. SPb., 1891.


Internet Resources 

1.      Alekseev Iu.G. Gosudar' vseia Rusi. M., 2017

2.      Zimin A.A. Rossiia na rubezhe XV–XVI stoletii (Ocherki sotsial'no-politicheskoi istorii). M., 1982.  

3.      Koniavskaia E.L. Ocherki po istorii tverskoi literatury XIV-XV v. M, 2007.