by Andrei BOGDANOV, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences
In 2004, the State Duma (lower house of parliament) of the Russian Federation established annual holiday - Day of National Unity (November 4) - in honor of the unity of Russian society in the face of deadly danger for Motherland. On that day (October 25, Old Style) 395 years ago, in 1612, the country's Territorial Army together with Cossack units took by assault Kitaigorod, a fortified district next to the Moscow Kremlin where the Polish and Lithuanian invaders and treacherous boyars took cover.
Back in 1601 - 1603 during the reign of Boris Godunov, Russia was struck by famine. Even monasteries began hiding food and letting common parishioners starve. The poor sold themselves to slavery for a morsel of bread, crowds of rebels trekked to Moscow. Thus the "Time of Troubles" - called so by Russian writers of the 17th century - began. According to eye witnesses, the root of all evil was not in the economy or religion like it was in West European countries, it lay in the destruction of ties among people: a landowner who was obliged to be "fatherly" to peasants, now had an absolute right over them*. As a result, in the year of hardships he let them starve, though formerly a villein had been regarded not just as a factotum but almost as a member of the family who often supported his master in battle campaigns. Having thrown him out into the street, both the master and the czar who let that be, put themselves above the law, not only in the eyes of the offended but of society as a whole.
It was not by chance that when in 1605 another czar - Lzhedmitry (False Demetrius), who was accepted by common people, troops, nobility, clergy and even by his allegedly "own" mother Mariya Nagaya**, - entered Moscow on a white horse, many united under the imposter's banner, thus, denying the right of existence to former immoral power. Actually, the imposter's person di ... Читать далее