Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda - the unknown capital of Russia

Everyone knows that Moscow is the capital of our country. St. Petersburg (Petrograd) was the main city of Russia for about two centuries. It is still often called the Northern Capital. But not many people know about the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda, as the political and cultural center of the Russian state. And she, indeed, was such for 17 years - from 1564 to 1581.

A settlement called the Great Sloboda appeared here in the 13th century on the territory of the Pereyaslavl-Zalessky principality. In 1302, the land passed into the ownership of the Moscow princes, in the documents of a later time it is already referred to as the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda. Under Ivan Kalita, this name was already officially fixed.

During the reign of Vasily III, it became the prince's favorite residence near Moscow, where he often rested and hunted. In 1513, the Intercession Cathedral was erected in the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda. But, the settlement reached its highest prosperity during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. In early December 1564, the tsar set off from Moscow to the Trinity-Sergius Monastery on a pilgrimage. But, from there, unexpectedly for everyone, he left not for Moscow, but for the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda, which was 50 miles from the monastery.

Moreover, the most revered icons from the Kremlin and the state treasury were transported to the settlement. Ivan the Terrible explained his departure by the fact that he was forced to hide from the boyars, who, in the Tsar's opinion, were preparing a conspiracy against him. Such an event was unprecedented in Russian history. For many years, Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda became the de facto capital of the state. A palace for the king, chambers for the guardsmen were erected here. Sloboda turned into a real residence of the monarch.

Shopping malls appeared on the banks of the Seroy River; not only Russians, but also foreign merchants came to the local market. In a short time, Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda turned into the largest shopping center in Russia. Here Ivan the Terrible received foreign ambassadors, concluded international treaties. It is known that in 1567 the Swedish embassy visited here, and three years later envoys from Austria and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1569, the first printing house in Russia, organized by Ivan Fedorov, was transported from Moscow to the settlement. Fedorov's students Andronik Timofeev and Nikifor Tarasiev worked there.

During the plague that gripped Moscow in 1568, Ivan the Terrible hid here with his family, and in 1571 the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda became the venue for the show of brides. The king decided to marry in the third, therefore, two thousand beauties from all over the state were delivered to the settlement. The choice of Ivan the Terrible fell on Martha Sobakina, the daughter of a nobleman from Kolomna Vasily Stepanovich Sobakin. The wedding took place in the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda on October 28, 1571, despite the fact that the bride had suddenly fallen ill by that time.

After 15 days, Marfa Vasilievna died. Ivan the Terrible himself was sure that she had been poisoned, ordered a thorough investigation, as a result of which about 20 people were executed, found guilty of conspiracy against the young queen. Marfa Vasilievna became the heroine of the film "Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession". But, the fictional heroine has nothing to do with the real queen, she simply could not feast with the king for health reasons.

In 1581, another tragedy occurred in the family of Ivan the Terrible: under mysterious circumstances, the tsar's son died from his first marriage with Anastasia Romanovna Zakharyina-Yuryeva, Ivan. The exact cause of the death of the 27-year-old prince remains a mystery to this day, and the version that Ivan was killed by his father with a blow to the temple with a staff does not have any serious evidence. Shocked by the terrible loss, Ivan the Terrible decided to leave the Alexandrovskaya Sloboda forever. Gradually, it lost its status as the political center of the Russian state, and began to decline.

During the Time of Troubles, the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda suffered greatly from the Polish army. Twice, in 1609 and 1611, it was captured by the detachment of Jan Sapieha. The militias of Minin and Pozharsky liberated the settlement during the liberation campaign against Moscow. Now Aleksandrov is a city in the Vladimir region with a population of about 60, 000 inhabitants. Since 2010, Aleksandrov has not even had the status of a historical settlement.

There are suggestions that it is in Aleksandrov that the library of Ivan the Terrible should be sought. Leaving Moscow for the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda, the tsar, who was very fond of reading, simply could not part with his unique book collection, which included thousands of the rarest volumes. In 1581, Ivan the Terrible left the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda, heartbroken; he accompanied the body of his deceased son to Moscow. Therefore, I probably did not remember about the library at that time. The king himself died a little over two years after his son, and all this time he was seriously ill. It could have happened that the library remained forever in the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda.