SOPHIA VITOVTOVNA (1372-1375, Grand Duchy of Lithuania - June 15 / July 5, 1453, Moscow), the Grand Princess of Moscow, since January 9, 1391 the wife of Vasily I Dmitrievich, the Grand Prince of Moscow and Vladimir; mother of the Grand Prince Vasily II Vasilievich the Dark
Vasily I Dmitrievich and Sophia Vitovtovna at the Great Sakkos of Metropolitan Photius. 1414-1417 (The Armory Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin)

SOPHIA VITOVTOVNA (1372-1375, Grand Duchy of Lithuania - June 15 / July 5, 1453, Moscow), the Grand Princess of Moscow, since January 9, 1391 the wife of Vasily I Dmitrievich, the Grand Prince of Moscow and Vladimir; mother of the Grand Prince Vasily II Vasilievich the Dark


  • Vitautas the Great, the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1392-1430)


  • Anna, the Grand Duchess of Lithuania, first wife of Vitautas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania (c. 1370)


The only daughter of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitautas Sophia was born between 1372-1375 in Lithuania. She was destined to play a significant role in the history of Rus, as by her fate from the very birth she was drawn into the intricacies of big politics [for the reconstruction of her biography, see: 19, p. 740-741; 20, p. 621; 22, p. 180-190; 25, p. 49-50; 33, s. 212-213, etc.]. Her father Vitautas, long before turning into a powerful ruler of Lithuania, complained that Jagaila and Skirgaila did not allow him to marry his daughter, fearing that Vitautas would thus have allies in his struggle for power [6, p. 92; 23]. Obviously, some matrimonial plans in the event of Vitautas's death were also among the Teutonic Order, which received the disgraced prince in Prussia after the murder of Kestutis and the flight of Vitastas himself from Lithuania. Despite the fierce struggle that resulted in open military confrontation, Sophia's engagement still took place. She was married to the Moscow prince, the son of Dmitry Donskoy, Vasily Dmitrievich. In the fall of 1390 all the formalities with the ambassadors who arrived from Moscow were settled and Sophia, accompanied by Ivan Olshansky and the Moscow boyars, departed for Novgorod [29, s. 141-162]. The Lithuanian princess was already in Moscow in the winter of 1390, and on January 9, 1391, a wedding took place [15, p. 390-404; 16, p. 22].

Apparently, from the very beginning Sophia took an active part in the political life of Moscow, not limited to the role of the wife of the Grand Prince. The political situation, both in Lithuania and in Rus, was changing quickly. To maintain power, Vasily I was forced to maneuver between the Horde khans, appanage princes and his own brothers, who claimed the grand princal throne [7, p. 52-54]. Rather similar was the position of Vitautas, who became the Grand Prince of Lithuania, hatching ambitious plans for a new crusade against the Rus lands and the Horde [28, p. 146]. Matrimonial politics played an important role in this situation, and some researchers are inclined to believe that it was Sophia who largely contributed to the preservation of, albeit fragile, but still equilibrium between Lithuania and Moscow at that time. Subsequently, Sophia would openly side with her husband and even represent his interests (and therefore the interests of the entire Moscow principality) at a meeting with Vitautas in Smolensk in 1399 [V, p. 245–246] During this period, Vasily I was busy establishing allied relations with appanage princes, and Vitautas, counting on a coalition with the Teutonic Order, planned to seize Novgorod [9]. The plans of the Lithuanian prince, however, were not destined to come true. The Grand Princess returned from a trip to her father with gifts. Among the Smolensk icons she brought, very likely, was the famous miraculous image of the Smolensk Mother of God, which after the death of Sophia was returned to Smolensk [12].

In a marriage with Vasily I, Sophia gave birth to at least nine children: five sons and four daughters (the existence of one of them, the youngest, Anna - Maria, was questioned by V. A. Kuchkin) [see: 14, p. 154; 16, p. 24]. The eldest son, Yuri, died at the age of four, which complicated the question of the future of the Grand Prince's throne. In pre-revolutionary historiography, there is an opinion about Sophia as about an intriguer who did not come to court [10, 259–260; 26, p. 384–385], but modern historians treat Sophia more carefully [21; 25, p. 49].According to her husband's will, significant amounts of land were transferred to Sophia Vitovtovna, thus the future of the Grand Princess was secured. After the death of her husband, Sophia actually became regent under the minor Vasily Vasilievich [IV, no. 20–22; VI, p. 130; 4, 20–34; 5, p. 141-145; 8, p. 275-324; 17, p. 33–54]. This fact is an indicator, if not of trust in his wife, then, at least, of recognition of her importance in a political situation. Indeed, even during periods of extreme tension between Moscow and Lithuania, the ties between the two states were never broken and this was possible only thanks to Sophia [29, p. 32-42]. She, together with her unnamed daughter (S.V. Polekhov assumes that it was Anna Palaiologina [21]), visited Vitautas in Troki in 1413, and ten years later, in 1423, she visited Vitautas again to confirm the will of Vasily I Dmitrievich, where her eight-year-old son, the future Vasily II the Dark was named an heir [23, p. 183-200]. For Vitautas the issue with the heir was also fundamentally important: the main rival of his grandson, brother of Vasily I, Prince of Zvenigorod Yuri Dmitrievich was twinned with Svidrigaila, an old enemy of Vitautas himself [29, p. 32-42]. In the event of his coming to power, not only the fate of Sophia and the young prince was in danger, but also the policy of Vitovt in general [on the political situation in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania see: 6, p. 92-110, etc.]. It was not practical to count on an alliance with Yuri Dmitrievich, and Svidrigaila's support in his claims to the Lithuanian princely throne was obvious. The situation was aggravated by the fact that at this time Lithuania was brewing a war with the crusaders because of the Zemoity taken by the Teutonic Order, as wellas the fact that the Rus appanage princes were not ready to recognize the young Vasily Vasilyevich as the Grand Duke.

After the death of Vasily I in 1425, the grand-ducal table nevertheless passed to the ten-year-old Vasily Vasilyevich [V, p. 246]. His candidacy was supported not only by Vitautas, whose participation was reduced to several consultations, but also by the Moscow Rurikovichs, which, according to the researchers, determined the success of the case. Sophia became regent under the minor prince and even carried out a number of reforms, relying on the support of the boyars. In historiography, much attention was paid to the judicial reform of Sophia, which significantly expanded the rights of appanage princes, probably at the insistence of the boyars, headed by Ivan Dmitrievich Vsevolozhsky [7, p. 30, 54-56; 9; 25, p. 49; 27, p. 754-755].

The situation of the maturing Vasily Vasilyevich, despite the active reign of his mother, still remained rather unstable and was especially shaken after the death of Vitautas in 1430. The Moscow prince lost the support of his omnipotent grandfather, and Lithuania plunged into the abyss of civil war. A year after the death of Vitautas, Vasily Vasilyevich had to confirm his right to the grand-ducal table in the Horde, since Yuri Dmitrievich still claimed the label, referring to the second will of Dmitry Donskoy. According to the text of the will, after the death of the eldest son of Dmitry Donskoy, Vasily I, the princely table should have passed not to the son of the latter, but to the next oldest brother, i.e. Yuri Dmitrievich (due to the fact that in 1389 Vasily I had not yet had a son, the future Vasily II). Vasily II, again, not without the help of his mother, who sent Vsevolozhsky, experienced in diplomacy, to help him, managed to defend power. In an effort to further strengthen the position of her son, Sophia chose a bride for him - the daughter of the Serpukhov-Borovsk prince Maria Yaroslavna.

On February 8, 1433, a wedding took place, during which a famous scandal erupted, which grew into an open war between Vasily II and Yuri Dmitrievich [2, p. 340-343; 7, p. 52-54; 24, p. 3-9; 27, p. 455-457; 31, p. 133; 33, p. 187-198]. Sophia Vitovtovna tore off the golden belt that belonged to Dmitry Donskoy and was allegedly stolen from Vasily the Squint, the son of Yuri of Zvenigorod. The offended Vasily the Squint and his brother Dmitry Shemyaka retired from the wedding and later, together with Yuri Dmitrievich, went on a military campaign against Moscow. So the long-term hidden confrontation grew into an open military conflict, during which the Grand Prince's throne passed from hand to hand several times. Sophia was destined to survive the flight to Tver and Kostroma, the fire in Moscow, exile to Zvenigorod, the capture and blindness of her son in 1446, her own captivity by Shemyaka, who, after the final flight from Moscow, kept the princess at his place for another year.

But even after the approval of Vasily II the Dark on the Moscow table, the life of Princess Sophia cannot be called calm. In 1451, she led the defense of Moscow during the attack of the Tatars, together with her grandson Yuri [19, p. 740-741; 25, p. 51]. By her order, the construction of the Ascension Cathedral of the Ascension Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin, begun by Evdokia Dmitrievna, was continued. She maintained active external relations with the Lithuanian boyars. On November 11, 1451, Sophia drew up a will, according to which most of her possessions were transferred to her grandson, Prince of Dmitrov, Yuri Vasilyevich. Also, part of the property was assigned to daughter-in-law Maria Yaroslavna, grandchildren Andrei, Ivan and Boris and the Archangel Cathedral [11, p. 18-19].

Sophia died on June 15 / July 5, 1453, shortly before that she took the schema under the name of Syncliticia, and was buried in the Cathedral of the Ascension Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin next to her mother-in-law Evdokia Dmitrievna [22, p. 180-190]. Subsequently, Maria Yaroslavna was buried next to Sophia. After the destruction of the Ascension Cathedral in 1929, the remains of Sophia Vitovtovna were reburied in the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin [22, p. 180-190].


  • Yuri Vasilievich (May 18, 1395 - November 30, 1400)
  • Ivan Vasilievich (January 15, 1397 – July 20, 1417), Prince of Nizhny Novgorod
  • Daniil Vasilievich (December 6, 1401 - May 1402)
  • Semyon Vasilievich (January 13, 1405 - April 8, 1405)
  • Vasily II Vasilievich (March 10, 1415 – March 27, 1462), the Grand Prince of Moscow and Vladimir (1425–1433)
  • Anna Vasilievna Palaiologina (1393 – August 1417), the Byzantine empress, the first wife of the Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaiologus
  • Anastasia Vasilievna (1398 - 1470), the wife of the Kiev prince Alexander Vladimirovich (Olelko)
  • Vasilisa Vasilievna (1400? - before 1440), in the first marriage was the wife of the Prince of Nizhny Novgorod Alexander Ivanovich Bryukhaty, in the second marriage was the wife of Alexander Ivanovich Vzmetnya, the Prince of Suzdal
  • Maria Vasilievna* - since 1418 was the wife of Yuri Patrikeevich; from this marriage origine the princes of the Patrikeevs, and from the Patrikeevs origine the princes Kurakins and Golitsyns. * V.A. Kuchkin considers record about the existence of Maria Vasilievna, the fourth daughter of Vasily I and Sofia Vitovtovna, erroneous [see: 14, p. 154; 16, p. 24]


Volosts Volosts in Kolomna: Pesochna, Brasheva, Gvozdnya, Ivan, Ust-Merska, Gzhel; Volosts in Pereyaslavl: Kinela, Yulka, Marinina Slobodka; Volosts in Vologda: Ukhtyuzhka, Bryukhova Slobodka, Maslena, Yangosar; Volosts on Beloozero: Ust-Ugla (Slobodka of Prince Vasily Semyonovich), Vereteyka; Volosts on Kostroma: Iledam, Obnora, Komela, Volochek, Nerekhta. Villages On Kolomna: 1. Kolychevskoe 2. Mikultsevo (Nikoltsevo) 3. Lipyatinskoe 4. Chyukhistovo 5. Okulovskoe 6. Repensky 7. Babyshevskoe 8. Lystsevo 9. Oslebyatevskoe 10. On Severts of Grigory Naumov 11. On Malina Ivanovskoe Bunkova 12. Velino 13. Krivtsovo 14. Broniche 15. Chevyrevo 16. Marchukovo 17. Rozhok 18. Pochinok at the Shchelina Lake 19. Malino 20. Ivanovskoe Vasilievicha in Levichin 21. Zakharovskoe 22. Ogloblino 23. Olkh 24. Zmeevskoe 25. poshlye princess villages 26. Visheles In Moscow: 27. Semchinskoe 28. Popovskoe Vorobyevo 29. Semenovskoe 30. Myachkov on Pohra 31. Faustovskoe 32. Lodygino 33. Fedorovskoe Leontyeva 34. Tyazhino 35. Banya in Goretov 36. Dorenskoe 37. Mitin pochinok 38. Fedorovskoe Sviblova on the Yauza 39. Krylatskoe 40. Khvostovskoe near the city 41. Builovskoe 42. Alekseevskaya village 43. Timofevskoe on the Yauza Villages in Yuryev: 44. Kurchevskoe 45. Yeletskoe 46. Varvarskoe 47. Turabievskie villages 48. Aleksino 49. Bereznik 50. Ratkovo 51. Kuchka 52. Derevenka 53. Shadrino 54. Krasnoe Selo 55. Provatovo 56. Elizarovskoe 57. Frolovskoe 58. Eloh 59. Bogoroditskoe 60. Petrovskoe 61. Chagino 62. Savelievskoe 63. Ivorovo 64. Carabuzino Villages on Kostroma: 65. Kachalovskoe 66. Ushakovskoe 67. Svyatoe in Evpaty 68. Knyaginino In Pereyaslavl: 69. Chechevkino 70. Slotino 71. Veskoe 71a. Rodionovskoe 72. Dobroe Villages in Vladimir: 73. Grigorievskoe Olferyevo 74. Tolba 75. Vizeksha 76. Golovino 77. Andreevskoe 78. Slobodka on Gusy Villages in Murom: 79. Seltso 80. Shatur Villages in Nizhny Novgorod: 81. Sokolovskoe 82. Kerzhanets 83. Alachinsky 84. Mangach 85. Nepeucino 86. Kurmysh 87. Algash In Bezhetskiy Verkh: 88. Kistma 89. Fedorovsky Sviblovsky 89a. Antonovskie villages 90. Maksimovskoe Village in Vologda: 91. Maslenskie villages 92. Yangosar villages 93. Govorovskie villages 94. Fedorovskie villages Sviblovy in Otvodny 95. Fedorovskie villages Sviblovy on Syama 96. Primysel and prikup in Vologda and Toshna 97. Vasilievskoe in Rostov 98. Troitskaya Slobodka on the Volga On the Lamskiy Volok 99. Beleutovskie villages 100. Okorokovsky 101. in Yuryev Sloboda On Ustyug: 102. Fedorovskie villages Sviblovy 103. Ivanovskie Golovin 104. Tutolminsky 105. Fominsk villages Dyakonovy Half of the taxes of Nizhny Novgorod [IV, No. 20-22; 4, p. 20-34; 13].


Boyarin Ivan Fedorovich Starkov [13]; groom Ivan Yurievich; Stepan Oboburov; possibly Vyacheslav Sigismundovich [3, p. 411; 13]; clerk Yakov; probably clerk Andrey Yarlyk [13]; clerk Minya Esipov's son; possibly the treasurer Mikhail Alekseevich Chert Stromilov; poselsky Terenty Semichev [I, no. 194, p. 155]; poselsky Mikiforka [II, T. 1. No. 46, p. 51]; various tributaries [II, T. 2. No. 323, p. 305]; duty officers [III, Part 1, No. 200, p. 179.].

The archimandrite of the Chudov Monastery, Theodosius, probably was amenber of the churchyard of the Grand Princess [IV, no. 57, p. 178].

The women's court of Sophia Vitovtovna in the 1390s included the wives of the boyars of Vasily I Dmitrievich: Maria, the wife of Vasily Vasilyevich Velyaminov, the wife of Ivan Aleksandrovich Moroz, Maria, the wife of Mikula Vasilyevich Velyaminov, Agrafena, the wife of Ivan Andreevich Khromy, Maria, the wife of Poluekt Vasilyevich Velyaminov, Maria, the wife of Alexander Andreevich Ostey, Irina, the wife of Semyon Vasilyevich Okatiev, Ulyana, the wife of Ivan Fedorovich Sobaka Fominsky, as well as Irina, the wife of boyar Semyon Vasilyevich Valuev [13; IV, no. 57, p. 177].


The icon "Blessed Sky", according to one version, was brought by Sophia to Moscow in 1391 among other icons [18, p. 162-163]. The venerated copy of the icon, made by order of Tsar Fyodor Alekseevich in the second half of the 17th century, is kept in the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin [1].

The cross, mentioned in the will of Sophia Vitovtovna, was a gift from Vitautas to Sophia during their meeting in Smolensk in 1399 [21].


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