Elena Glinskaya

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Elena Glinskaya
Grand Princess consort of Moscow
Regent of Moscow/Russia
Glinskaya reconstruction.jpg
Grand Princess consort of Moscow
Tenure 1526–1538
Born c. 1510
Died 4 April [O.S. 13 April] 1538
Burial Ascension Convent, Kolomenskoye
Archangel Cathedral, Kremlin (1929)
Spouse Vasili III of Russia
Issue Ivan Vasilyevich
Yuri Vasilevich
Clan by birth
House by marriage
House of Glinski
House of Rurik
Father Vasili Lvovich Glinsky
Mother Princess Ana Jakšić
Religion Eastern Orthodox

Elena Vasilyevna Glinskaya (Russian: Елена Васильевна Глинская ; c. 1510 – 4 (13) April 1538, Moscow) was the second wife of Grand Prince Vasili III and regent of Russia for 5 years (1533–38).


Elena was a daughter of Prince Vasili Lvovich Glinsky and Serb Princess Ana Jakšić. It is to her powerful uncle, Prince Mikhail Glinsky, that the family owed its distinction. In 1525, Vasili III resolved to divorce his barren wife, Solomoniya Saburova, and marry Elena. According to the chronicles, he chose Elena "because of the beauty of her face and her young age."[1]

Grand Princess

Despite strong opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church, the divorce was effected, and Elena gave birth to Ivan (future Ivan IV the Terrible) in 1530 and Yuri (future prince of Uglich) in 1532.[2] It was later rumoured, that Elena brought witches from Finland and people of the Sami to help her conceive by the help of magic[3] On his deathbed, Vasili III transferred his powers to Elena Glinskaya until his oldest son Ivan was mature enough to rule the country.[4] The chronicles of those times do not provide any more or less precise information on Elena's legal status after Vasili's death. All that is known is that it could be defined as regency and that the boyars had to report to her. That is why the time between Vasili's death on 3 December 1533 and her own demise in 1538 is called the reign of Elena.


Elena Glinskaya challenged the claims of her brothers-in-law, Yury of Dmitrov and Andrey of Staritsa. The struggle ended with their incarceration in 1534 and 1537, respectively. Elena's reign is also known for conflicts inside the government caused by her close association with a handsome young boyar named Ivan Feodorovich Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolensky and Metropolitan Daniel. In 1535, Elena carried out a currency reform that introduced a unified monetary system in the state. In foreign affairs, Glinskaya succeeded in signing an armistice with Lithuania in 1536, while simultaneously neutralizing Sweden. She had a new defensive wall constructed around Moscow, invited settlers from Lithuania, bought Russian prisoners free and instigated measures to protect travelers against street bandits.[5] She is recorded as having visited several convents[6]

Elena died in 1538 at a relatively young age. Her son's governess, Agrippina Fedorovna Chelyadnina was arrested in connection with Glinskaya's death. Some historians believe that she was poisoned by the Shuiskys, who usurped power after her death. Recent studies of her remains tend to support the thesis that Elena was poisoned.[7]


  1. Natalia Pushkareva, Women in Russian History from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century. Eve Levin Trans. (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1997), 65.
  2. Janet Martin, Medieval Russia 980-1584 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 292-293.
  3. Isabel De Madariaga (in Swedish) : Ivan den förskräcklige ("Ivan the Terrible") (2008)
  4. Martin, Medieval Russia, 293.
  5. Isabel De Madariaga (in Swedish) : Ivan den förskräcklige ("Ivan the Terrible") (2008)
  6. Isabel De Madariaga (in Swedish) : Ivan den förskräcklige ("Ivan the Terrible") (2008)
  7. Martin, Medieval Russia, 331; Pushkareva, Women in Russian History, 65-67.
Elena Glinskaya
House of Glinski
Born: ca. 1510 Died: 4 April [O.S. 13 April] 1538
Russian royalty
Title last held by
Solomoniya Saburova
Grand Princess consort of Muscovy
Title next held by
Anastasia Romanovna
as Tsarina