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Coin Russia Sophia Alekseyevna regent for young Prince Peter I and Ivan V 17th century copper

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Sophia Alekseyevna (Russian: Со́фья Алексе́евна; IPA: [ˈsofʲɪjə ɐlʲɪˈksʲejɪvnə]; 27 September [O.S. 17 September] 1657 – 14 July [O.S. 3 July] 1704) was regent of Russia from 1682 to 1689. She allied herself with a singularly capable courtier and politician, Prince Vasily Galitzine, to install herself during the minority of her brother Ivan V and half-brother Peter I. Her regency was carried out with a firm and heavy fist. She did not hesitate to use violent tactics to promote her agenda. The activity of this "bogatyr-tsarevna" (as Sergey Solovyov called her) was all the more extraordinary, as upper-class Muscovite women, confined to the upper-floor terem and veiled and guarded in public, invariably were kept aloof from any open involvement in politics

Although Sophia emerged on the scene during the dynastic struggles of 1682, her prior influences can help to explain her ascendance to the regency. At the previous change of rule, Sophia may have acted in the interest of her brother, Feodor, as various rumours exist of her pleading the dying Alexis not to proclaim Peter his heir. Feodor’s capability to lead Russia was questioned, based on his weak nature and poor health. His mental ability developed quite nicely over time, however, as he was taught by Simeon Polotsky. During his brief reign, many historians argue that Feodor actually 'ruled under the protectorate of Sophia his sister.'[4] As his health began to decline, more individuals rose up to counsel Feodor, and Sophia found her influence steadily declining. Taking advantage of a court never open to a woman in her position, she utilized her connections, making allies and formally planning on securing the throne. As Feodor’s health declined, Sophia immediately returned to the political scene, attending her brother’s funeral and causing a commotion while doing so. In Sophia’s age, the female relatives of the tsar were kept away from the courtroom and other political workrooms, and funerals were traditionally carried on without women. Sophia stormed into the funeral, insisting on her presence and simultaneously setting off a chain of events that would result in her regency.The Miloslavsky party took advantage of the Moscow Uprising of 1682 to place Sophia on the seat of power. Tsar Alexis left behind him two families by his two wives, both of which boasted at least one male heir. As the clans of Alexis' two wives were in conflict, Sophia crafted her scheme to ensure power for herself and her family. Promoting the case of her brother Ivan as the legitimate heir to the throne, Sophia attempted to convince the patriarch and the boyars that their recent decision to crown Peter should be reversed. Insisting that Peter’s election broke monarchic laws by skipping over her brother, who would have been next in line to rule if not for his ineptitude, she proposed a shared crown with Ivan. Upon the court’s swift and unanimous rejection of the proposal, Sophia reached out to the discouraged military troop, the Streltsy, for their aid and support. The unjust dismissal of Ivan's rights acted as a catalyst to the already displeased and frustrated troops. Multiple issues, including merciless motivational tactics and lack of rest, drove the Streltsy to violently oppose the "unjust" election of Peter. As the fighting ceased and Peter’s life was left forever scarred by the blood spilt by his Naryshkin relatives, the Streltsy received their initial demands.[5] Building on the momentum of the Streltsy rebellion, the incompetent Ivan was crowned senior tsar and Peter, only nine years old, junior tsar. Sophia had been deemed the sole intellectually mature member of the family at the time of Feodor’s death, making her the favourite to govern in place of the child, Peter, and the inept Ivan. Using the education and political savvy she acquired by Feodor’s side, Sophia convinced the nobles and patriarch of her capacities to rule Russia. As Sophia had arranged before her Feodor’s death, Vasily Galitzine was installed as a de facto head of government, responsible for most of the policies during her regency.

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