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On April 6, 2021, the Kremlin Museums launch the exhibition "Decline of a Dynasty. The Last Rurikids and the False Dmitry" – a sequel to the ongoing research project devoted to the rulers of Medieval Russia. Following the earlier shows that explored the reigns of Ivan III, Ivan the Terrible and Boris Godunov (in 2007, 2013 and 2016, respectively), the upcoming project will focus on the Rurik dynastic crisis – the finale of the uninterrupted seven centuries-long Rurikids rule over the Russian lands, erupting in the tragic events of the Time of Troubles.

Even though members of the Rurikid clan continuously struggled for power throughout the 16th century, in the public mind, they were the only dynasty who had the legitimate claim to the Russian throne and absolute power – only they were believed to uphold the ancient God’s prescribed order. Therefore, the dynasty’s sudden demise sent powerful shockwaves throughout Russia and among its people. The absence of the legitimate heir inevitably plunged the country into the mayhem of successive disasters: numerous peasant uprisings during the famine that happened in the reign of Boris Godunov were followed by the arrival of the False Dmitry and his short-lived rule, which also ended up in bloodshed.

Only a fraction of the documents and original artefacts about the reign of the last Rurikids survives in the royal treasury. Nevertheless, the exhibition curators managed to source out and bring together the most significant, high-profile exhibits. The pieces that have been loaned from ten Russian and European museums will jointly narrate the story of the last years of the Rurikids reign and the subsequent Time of Troubles that threatened the very existence of Russian statehood.

The exhibition project comprises two sections, located in the Assumption Belfry and Patriarch’s Palace exhibition halls. The One-Pillar Chamber in the Patriarch’s Palace acquaints visitors with the late 16th-century Rurikid family history. The guests will see the items closely associated with the coronation ceremony, marriage, birth and death of the Rurikids rulers. Amongst the pieces detailing the history of the late 16th century, on display will be the royal regalia and insignia, precious objects from the royal treasury, personal belongings of the royals, hereditary holy relics and important state documents.

The Assumption Belfry exposition highlights one of the most mysterious figures of the Russian Time of Troubles: Dmitry Ivanovich, the presumed son of Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Muscovy, who proclaimed himself Dmitry the Emperor and went down in Russian history as Dmitry the Impostor, or False Dmitry I.

Material and documentary evidence on display spans from the legitimate Tsarevich Dmitry’s death at Uglich and the emergence of the "miraculously escaped" Tsarevich in Poland in 1604, to his military campaigns in Russia, the ascent of Tsar Dmitry Ivanovich to the Russian throne in 1605, his eleven-month reign and death. The evidence of the short-lived reign of the False Dmitry, displayed alongside the documents and objects dating to subsequent centuries, will explore the Impostor's image as projected to the world by himself versus the one that eventually remained in the collective memory of Russian people.

The experts of the Kremlin Museums have developed a series of educational events, lectures, and workshops. A short four-lecture course "The Last Rurikids. Russia at the Crossroads", accompanying the exhibition, is scheduled to start mid-May 2021. Besides, a special educational programme "Failed Dynasties: the Godunovs, the Shuiskys and the Impostor" is tailored to senior schoolchildren and all those interested in the history of Medieval Russia.

You can book your exhibition and lecture tickets on the Kremlin Museums website

The exhibition will run from April 6 – July 25, 2021

Further information
Contact the Moscow Kremlin Museum Press Office:

+7 (495) 695-41-87