The Time of Troubles was a period in Russian history from the death of Fyodor Ivanovich, the son of Ivan the Terrible, in 1598 up to the year 1613 when Michael Romanov was chosen as czar. Fyodor became the leader of Russia after the death of his father, Ivan IV. Fyodor was feeble-minded and the real power belonged to Boris Godunov. When Fyodor died childless in 1598, Godunov succeeded to the throne. The rightful heir to the throne, Dimitri Ivanovich, Fyodor’s half brother, had been murdered in 1591 with many believing that Godunov was involved in the murder. In 1601, 1602, and 1603, during Godunov’s reign, Russia experienced a terrible famine, with over 100,000 deaths in Moscow alone. Then, a person claiming to be Dimitri found support and asylum in Poland. This False Dimitri entered Russia with a band of Polish mercenaries, which provoked riots and peasant insurrections.
In 1605, Godunov suddenly died and the False Dimitri entered Moscow and took power. He was then assassinated in 1606 and a boyar (Russian noble) named Vasisli Shuiski assumed the title of czar. After putting down a revolt led by a man named Ivan Bolotnikov with peasant and Cossack supporters, a second False Dimitri led a new insurgent movement. Shuiski turned to Sweden for help, but during this chaotic time Poland intervened with a large military force. In 1610, Shuiski was deposed by the boyars and the Second False Dimitri was murderd by the captain of his bodyguard. The Polish army, after entering Moscow, tried to make the Polish king the new Russian czar. Finally, a nationalist army led by Kuzma Minin and Prince Dimitri Pozharskii, swept into Moscow capturing it from the Poles. This allowed a National Assembly to choose Michael Romanov as czar, ending the Time of Troubles. This period received its name from the political chaos, riots, insurrections, assassinations, famine, and foreign interventions described above.