Rus Articles Journal

Prince Kurbsky. Whether escape to Lithuania treachery was?

With some share of humour can be claimed that at the time of Ivan the Terrible in Russia there were first refugees for political reasons which it is quite possible to call pradissidentam. The best-known of them was the prince Andrey Kurbsky who ran away to Lithuania and very well settled in conditions, new to himself.

Having been on service to the king Sigismund, Kurbsky was granted by several manors including the city of Kovel which operated through the village constables. Lived in the town Milyanovichi in the territory of present Ukraine, near Kovel. Married the rich widow Kozinskaya (the nee princess), then with her divorced, married once again. In this marriage had the daughter and the son. After death of the prince Kurbsky under different pretexts the government of Poland slowly took away from the widow and the son presented to their father (including selected also Kovel). Kurbsky`s son Dmitry passed into Catholicism. Selected to it it was partially returned. Further Kurbsky` family developed, as well as other shlyakhetsky childbirth.

By the way, Andrey Kurbsky`s behavior meaning presently change (except for that the prince as pradissident, “chose freedom“ and voted legs against Ivan the Terrible`s totalitarianism), in those days from the feudal point of view was not change at all. The vassal wanted to replace a syuzeren, left the former destiny, it was presented on arrival to a new syuzeren with which it was treated kindly and awarded by lands. Whether it is possible to call him the traitor especially as, on modern terminology, he “chose the western values“?

Generally, on ethics of knights - it was treachery too. The vassal who decided to replace a syuzeren had to be personally to a syuzeren and to declare that he leaves a vassalitet. Only after that itself could choose a new syuzeren and to move to him - if survived still.

In those days the relations “the vassal - syuzeren“ were very widespread in Western Europe though in England, France, Spain the king was already an absolute master and when someone from his vassals, for old time`s sake, was thrown to the enemy of the king, it, whenever possible, executed as the traitor though he, for old time`s sake, also did not consider himself as the traitor. But then Russia, and countries of Western Europe went one road - from the vassal relations to an absolutism. Already the monarch solved whom to award who - is not present. Already in all state only the monarch had the right to print a hard coin of the state and to get from it all profit. Already the feudal lord in the destiny was not an absolute master of the citizens because from above there was a king.

So when historians of the Russian Empire, anyway, judged and ryadit about Andrey Kurbsky`s act, it was necessary to judge him under laws of time of Ivan the Terrible. The concept of recusancy then was not yet. There were smerda, there were soldiers people, there were boyars, princes, there was a tsar. And the tsar at the time of Kurbsky was absolutely recent invention. Before there was just “grand duke“. Besides, from all population “the gramoteshka was known“ at most by shares of percent of the population. And philosophized then, consider, one monks. And that is in time, free from obedience. So petitions could not be just much.

Still, thanks to talents of writers of the past, we know about flight of the prince Kurbsky to Lithuania and about his letter to Ivan the Terrible delivered by the lackey of the prince Vanka Shibanov in hands personally to Ivan the Terrible for what this Shibanov also was tortured by the tsar`s executioners to death. According to the count Tolstoy.

Escape of the prince from - under disgraces can be considered how it was designated by the prince as escape for rescue of own life. At the same time, saving own life, the prince spat on life of the mother, wife and children. Well, if so blood-thirsty tsar Ivan how he had to arrive with the traitor`s family? By the way, the prince already from Lithuania also accused the tsar Ivan that that killed a family of the deserter. At a speed of an exchange of that time news it is difficult to believe that he managed to learn about it for certain.

At the same time there is a version that threat of disgrace for the prince existed only in his imagination, and it is possible - and only in the letters written to them, serving for an escape justification to Lithuania. And actually his life, one of the closest grandees of the tsar Ivan, nothing threatened.

Personally it seems to me (on Okkam`s razor) that the most simple explanation is the most probable. All Europe went from feudal dissociation to an absolutism because it was only this way possible to be protected from neighbors and to adjust economy of the state. Therefore kings of England, Spain, France and princes / kings / dukes of Germany and Italy slowly curtailed the rights of certain feudal lords of the countries. On the same way also Russia went.

And here Lithuania, neighboring to it, represented an example of the state of anarchy. The rights of grandees were almost absolute there, the people were absolutely deprived of civil rights. The fact that in decades it had to lead to decline of the state - was not obvious at all and to a shlyakht did not interest because the nobility of Lithuania lived in the present. Here the largest feudal lords of Russia also glanced towards Lithuania because they saw for themselves much more freedoms and opportunities there.

Mostly both Andrey Kurbsky`s escape and escapes of several more boyars - feudal lords from Russia of Ivan the Terrible under the power of whom the country came to absolute monarchy is also explained by it.