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 . 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 .
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 ), 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].
Boyarin Ivan Fedorovich Starkov ; groom Ivan Yurievich; Stepan Oboburov; possibly Vyacheslav Sigismundovich [3, p. 411; 13]; clerk Yakov; probably clerk Andrey Yarlyk ; 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 .
The cross, mentioned in the will of Sophia Vitovtovna, was a gift from Vitautas to Sophia during their meeting in Smolensk in 1399 .
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