Andrey Kurbsky
Kniaz, knyaz or knez is a Slavic title found in most Slavic languages, denoting a royal nobility rank. It is usually translated into English as either Prince or less commonly as Duke....

 Andrey Mikhailovich Kurbsky was an intimate friend and then a leading political opponent of the Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. His correspondence with the tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 is a unique source for the history of 16th-century Russia. In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 in the 16th century Prince Andrew Kurbsky dynasty Rurikovich
Rurik Dynasty
The Rurik dynasty or Rurikids was a dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862 AD...

 was written in Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 in documents under the surname Krupski
Krupski - Belorussian are a noble, family from Eastern Europe-Origin of the Surname:The family Krupski was before the 14th century together with common practice for all noblemen in Europe. Comes from attachment to a personal name of hereditary nobles who owned the family nest Krupe , founders...

 Coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

Lewart coat of arms
Lewart is a Polish Coat of Arms. It was borne by several noble families of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Families that descend from the original medieval clan that assumed this c-of-a as well as those legally adopted into the clan...

 (Lew II
Lew II coat of arms
Lew II - Polish coat of arms, used by several genera. Two of them were families from the region of Kaszuby. Coat of arms "Lew II" is a variant of the coat of arms "Leo" .- Blazon :...


Kurbsky belonged to a family of Rurikid princes, which got its name from the town of Kurba near Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl is a city and the administrative center of Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, located northeast of Moscow. The historical part of the city, a World Heritage Site, is located at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers. It is one of the Golden Ring cities, a group of historic cities...

. At an early age, he gained renown for the courage displayed in the annual campaigns
Russo-Kazan Wars
thumb|300px|[[St. Basil's Cathedral]] is a monument to the Russian conquest of Kazan in 1552.The Russo-Kazan Wars was a series of wars fought between the Khanate of Kazan and Muscovite Russia from 1438, until Kazan was finally captured by Ivan the Terrible and absorbed into Russia in 1552.- Wars of...

 against Kazan
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. With a population of 1,143,546 , it is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the...

. During the decisive siege of Kazan he commanded the right flank of the Russian army and was wounded. Two years later, he defeated the Udmurt
Udmurt may refer to:*Udmurt people, people who speak the Udmurt language*Udmurt language, a Finno-Ugric language*Udmurt Republic, a federal republic of Russia*Udmurt Autonomous Oblast, an autonomous oblast of the Soviet Union...

 rebels and became a boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

. At that time, Kurbsky became one of the closest associates and advisors to the Tsar.

During the Livonian War
Livonian War
The Livonian War was fought for control of Old Livonia in the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia when the Tsardom of Russia faced a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland.During the period 1558–1578,...

, Kurbsky led the Russian troops against the fortress of Dorpat (today Tartu, Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

), and was victorious. After Ivan failed to renew his commission, Kurbsky defected to Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 on April 30, 1564, citing impending repressions
The oprichnina is the period of Russian history between Tsar Ivan the Terrible's 1565 initiation and his 1572 disbanding of a domestic policy of secret police, mass repressions, public executions, and confiscation of land from Russian aristocrats...

 as his reason. Later the same year he led a Polish-Lithuanian army against Russia and devastated the region of Velikie Luki. As a reward, Sigismund II August, king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, gave him the town of Kovel
Kovel is a city located in the Volyn Oblast , in northwestern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Kovelskyi Raion , the city itself is also designated as a separate raion within the oblast. The current estimated population is around 65,777.Kovel gives its name to one of the...

 in Volhynia
Volhynia, Volynia, or Volyn is a historic region in western Ukraine located between the rivers Prypiat and Southern Bug River, to the north of Galicia and Podolia; the region is named for the former city of Volyn or Velyn, said to have been located on the Southern Bug River, whose name may come...

Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

), where he lived peacefully, defending his Orthodox subjects from Polish encroachments. Kurbsky thus became the first Russian political emigre.

Kurbsky is best remembered for a series of vitriolic letters he exchanged with the Tsar between 1564 and 1579. In 1573, he wrote a political pamphlet
A pamphlet is an unbound booklet . It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths , or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book...

, which voiced the former independent princeling's disapproval of Ivan's slide towards absolutism. In his writings, Kurbsky blames the tsar for a number of pathologically cruel crimes, but historians still disagree as to whether his claims should be given credit. Kurbsky's language is remarkable for abundance of foreign loans, especially from Latin, which he had mastered in emigration.

Prince Kurbsky often supported the opposition to the regime. Grandson of Semyon Ivanovich Kurbsky was married to the daughter of a disgraced Prince Andrew of the Uglich
Uglich is a historic town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, which stands on the Volga River. Population: A local tradition dates the town's origins to 937. It was first documented in 1148 as Ugliche Pole...

. Kurbsky support in the struggle for the throne, not Vasily III
Vasili III of Russia
Vasili III Ivanovich was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil...

, and grandson, Dmitri, even more than earned the dislike of Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

's rulers.

Dmitri's son Prince
Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

 Kurbsky (Krupski
Krupski - Belorussian are a noble, family from Eastern Europe-Origin of the Surname:The family Krupski was before the 14th century together with common practice for all noblemen in Europe. Comes from attachment to a personal name of hereditary nobles who owned the family nest Krupe , founders...

) from Orthodoxy converted to Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. And he gave progeny in Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...


A dramatized account of his life, in which he is depicted as the second most powerful aristocrat in Russia, only after the Tsar, who is constantly put under pressure by boyars that want to make him revolt against the imperial authority at Moscow, can be found in the epic work of Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

, Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible (film)
Ivan the Terrible is a two-part historical epic film about Ivan IV of Russia made by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Part 1 was released in 1944 but Part 2 was not released until 1958 due to political censorship...


External links

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