Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
The Revolt of the Streltsi 1682

ON the morning of 15 May 1682, two horsemen galloped into the streltsi quarter shouting: "The Naryshkini have strangled the Tsarevich Ivan!" The horsemen were Alexander Miloslavsky and Peter Tolstoy, both in close league with Sofia. Alarms sounded and the whole quarter stirred. Streltsi grasped their weapons and, with banners flying, marched towards the Kremlin, calling for the blood of the traitors.1

Within the Kremlin the day's business was proceeding normally. The Council of Boyars had met and Matveev was just leaving the council chamber when the news reached him that rebel streltsi were swarming through the outer suburbs and making for the Kremlin. He sent for the Patriarch, gave orders for the gates to be shut, and for the Stremyanny regiment, the duty regiment of the day, to stay at their posts to defend Tsar Peter and his family.

It was too late. The streltsi had already reached the Kremlin. They surged into the square in front of the Granovitaya Palace, sweeping with them the men of the duty regiment, who quitted their posts and joined the mob. They halted at the foot of the Red Staircase, the grand entrance to the palace, and demanded the heads of the Naryshkini.

Matveev, learning from their shouts the reason for the outbreak, advised Tsaritsa Natalya to show herself with the young Tsar and the Tsarevich Ivan. Natalya hesitated. It called for courage to face the howling mob, but she had no alternative.

-43-

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